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Discursive practice – lean thinking, nurses’ responsibilities and the cost to care

journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-26, 00:00 authored by Clare HarveyClare Harvey, C Baret, C Rochefort, A Meyer, D Ausserhofer, R Ciutene, M Schubert
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the literature regarding work intensification that is being experienced by nurses, to examine the effects this is having on their capacity to complete care. The authors contend that nurses’ inability to provide all the care patients require, has negative implications on their professional responsibility. Design/methodology/approach – The authors used institutional ethnography to review the discourse in the literature. This approach supports inquiry through the review of text in order to uncover activities that remain institutionally accepted but unquestioned and hidden. Findings – What the authors found was that the quality and risk management forms an important part of lean thinking, with the organisational culture influencing outcomes; however, the professional cost to nurses has not been fully explored. Research limitations/implications – The text uncovered inconsistency between what organisations accepted as successful cost savings, and what nurses were experiencing in their attempts to achieve the care in the face of reduced time and human resources. Nurses’ attempts at completing care were done at the risk of their own professional accountability. Practical implications – Nurses are working in lean and stressful environments and are struggling to complete care within reduced resource allocations. This leads to care rationing, which negatively impacts on nurses’ professional practice, and quality of care provision.


Category 2 - Other Public Sector Grants Category






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Emerald Publishing, UK

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

Acceptance Date


External Author Affiliations

University of Basel, Switzerland; Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania; State College of Health Professions “Claudiana”, Italy; Eastern Institute of Technology, New Zealand; Aix-Marseille University, France; University of Sherbrooke, , Charles-LeMoyne Hospital, University Hospital Center of Sherbrooke (CHUS), Canada;

Era Eligible

  • Yes


Journal of Health Organization and Management