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Inhabiting the interspaces within emergency care

Carina Elmqvist


Aim: To describe and develop an understanding of the patient’s first encounter with different professionals at the scene of an accident and at the emergency department (ED), with a special focus on describing the meaning of emergency care of patients in these care contexts.

Design and Methods: The study, having a descriptive design, was carried out with a reflective lifeworld (RLR) approach founded on phenomenological philosophy

Results: The general structure revealed that emergency care is characterized by a hand-over of responsibility, which is characterized by life-saving medical actions and constitutes a doing. Those life-saving actions need a conscious presence, which at the same time means an existential support for the patient that is constituted by a being. The responsibility then intertwines the doing and the being and all persons involved are brought together into a mutual space. When the patient’s condition allows for increased physical distance from the professionals, a gap or an interspace in the intertwining between doing and being arises as well as an interspace in the patient's understanding of the encounter. For the patient and next-of-kin, this interspace means an empty space with paradoxical feelings of being interesting and at the same time uninteresting - a paradox of care. For the professionals, this interspace provides a needed  breathing space, but also feelings of being split between the high demands of efficiency and the patient's need for existential support and a meaningful encounter - an ethical dilemma.

Discussion: Knowledge of the temporal meaning ofthe encounter, to be here andnow,can give professionals an opportunityto fillthe interspacedespite increasingphysical distance as patient health improves. Furthermore, it will also give professionals an opportunity toreflect on howthe available timeis used.


emergency care, emergency department, lived experiences, phenomenology, scene of an accident, time perception

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