Transforming emergency medicine through narrative: qualitative action research at a community hospital

Health Commun. 2006;19(3):197-208. doi: 10.1207/s15327027hc1903_2.


Emergency departments struggle daily to save lives in an environment characterized by staff shortages, limited resources, and an expanding patient population. This qualitative action research study focused on the nature of communication in an urban emergency room (ER) and the organizing practices employed by staff to cope with these environmental changes, highlighting disconnects between current practices and traditional models of emergent care. A narrative description of the ER culture served as an impetus for practical improvements at this site, providing staff with both a unique perspective and a useful tool for improving their emergency care practices.

MeSH terms

  • Efficiency, Organizational
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Hospitals, Community / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Patient Admission
  • Physical Examination
  • Program Development
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Triage / organization & administration