A new study by HSMC Deputy Director Professor Justin Waring and Simon Bishop (Nottingham Business School) explores the patient experience of hospital discharge through the lens of political theory, in particular the work of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben.

The authors interpret hospital discharge as crossing various social, cultural and political thresholds (hospital/home, inpatient/outpatient, unwell/well), influenced by an interplay of professional expertise, scientific evidence, and organisational‐legal bureaucracies.

Almost all participants taking part in their study described discharge as an important symbolic spatial‐temporal ‘threshold’ between hospital and community that represented aspirations for recovery, wellbeing and dignity. The study describes the negative discharge experiences of participants, with three key findings:

  • older people with complex care needs can too easily fall through the gaps of the care system meaning they receive unsafe and even degrading treatment
  • it can be difficult for different specialists to work together to reached a shared understanding of a person’s care needs
  • care systems can become fixated with completing paperwork or meeting targets which contributes to the neglect of patient needs

J. Waring and S. Bishop (2019) Health States of Exception: unsafe non‐care and the (inadvertent) production of ‘bare life’ in complex care transitions. Sociology of Health and Illness [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9566.12993 [Accessed 20 September 2019]