The Wireless Nursing Call System: Politics of Discourse, Technology and Dependability in a Pilot Project

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This paper discusses a research project in which social scientists were involved both as analysts and supporters during a pilot with a new wireless nursing call system. The case thus exemplifies an attempt to participate in developing dependable health care systems and offers insight into the challenges of developing and supporting such systems. The analysis proposes that while dependability is not simply a technical issue, neither is it something, which can be improved merely by adding a social dimension. Instead, it argues that dependability is a relative concept, which may mean different things conditional on how it is specified in practice and who gets to do this. This relativity makes it important to relate the question of how to support dependable health care systems to an analysis of both the politics of technology within specific projects and to the politics of discourse, through which the researcher becomes involved in such projects.