Jade Wong @USL *Special Time*

“Risk. And the Moral Necessity of Maintaining Standards”

Jade Wong | Phd Candidate, Crown  Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice

Discussant: Megan MacGregor | PhD Student, Anthropology and CHSS

*Friday, May 14th, 2:00-3:20pm*

 for zoom information and paper email pask@uchicago.edu

Paper Abstract: In this chapter, I elaborate on one task that standards are lauded to accomplish in America’s health care system — the minimization of risk in the name of patient safety. I will argue that standards do not simply mitigate risk in American health care organizations; they also create risk. Professionals are trained to look for, see, and orient themselves to risk as the ever-present, existential condition in a complex health care system that holds the potential to lead to patient harm, morally binding them to anticipatory action before those risks come to be. In many cases, risk emerges the moment the professional spots deviations from standards, often mediated by documents such as checklists and logs, which then gets carried by a safety discourse and system that gives even the smallest of difference the meaning of risk which can subsequently escalate to disaster. Meanwhile, the same standard employed to minimize risk ends up serving other ends. It can protect professional projects and power while transforming itself into a key tool through which the safe, as well as the efficient, accountable, and even moral organization is pursued. To develop these arguments, we will enter a presentation to appreciate a stylized way of viewing the relationship between risk and standards, then go on a walk to explicate a specific professional vision that identifies and searches for risk.

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