The bleary-eyed (but disciplined) patient: Hospital late night and early morning awakenings and Foucault’s disciplinary power in a healthcare panopticon

Authors

  • Darren Choi University of Alberta

Abstract

It is an old adage that when one is staying at the hospital, a sleepless night will follow. Hospitals are notoriously difficult places to sleep in. This is due to a variety of factors, but one of the primary ones are the late night and early morning disturbances caused by nurses and other medical professionals, who are taking measurements and vital signs from the patient. Explaining why this occurs requires an understanding how the hospital is organized as a political institution. Using a Foucauldian theoretical framework, we critically examine the hospital as a disciplinary institution; we find that the hospital’s organizational impetus for a “perpetual examination” drives hospital sleeplessness. While the perpetual examination is not borne out of malice and is usually vital to the health of the patient, understanding this process helps us understand why hospitals are so difficult to sleep in. While we cannot reject the process of hospitalization wholesale, understanding what drives hospitals as political institutions helps us begin to improve them; helping patient sleep is one place to start.

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Published

2021-06-15

Issue

Section

Articles