Instrumental action: the timely exchange of implements during surgical operations

Document type: Conference Papers
Peer reviewed: Yes
Author(s): Marcus Sanchez Svensson, Christian Heath, Paul Luff
Title: Instrumental action: the timely exchange of implements during surgical operations
Conference name: 10th European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW 2007)
Year: 2007
Pagination: 41-60
ISBN: 978-1-84800-030-8
City: Limerick, IRELAND
ISI number: 000250298800003
Organization: Blekinge Institute of Technology
Department: School of Engineering - Dept. of Interaction and System Design (Sektionen för teknik – adv. för interaktion och systemdesign)
School of Engineering S- 372 25 Ronneby
+46 455 38 50 00
Authors e-mail:
Language: English
Abstract: In this paper we analyse an apparently simple collaborative activity, that of passing an implement from one person to another. The particular case we consider is surgical operations where nurses and surgeons routinely pass instruments to one another. Through fine-grained analysis of specific instances we address,- the preparatory work engaged in prior to passing, the ways in which the layout of artefacts is organised with respect to the temporal ordering of the activity, and how this arrangement can be reconfigured in the light of problems and circumstances that arise in an operation. We examine how passing an implement is finely shaped within the course of its articulation with regard to emerging actions of the participants. We suggest that an analysis of fine details of seemingly simple activities with objects may have implications for our understanding of collaborative work, and a one or two key concepts that have informed the design of advanced solutions.
Subject: Human Work Science\Computer Supported Cooperative Work
Human Work Science\Work Practice
Computer Science\Computersystems
Keywords: Collaborative work, surgical instruments, handling, manipulation, affordance, awareness, tangibility