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call bells, ethnography, quality of care, qualitative methods



  1. Deitrick, Lynn PhD, RN
  2. Bokovoy, Joanna DrPH, RN
  3. Stern, Glenn MA
  4. Panik, Anne MS, RN, CNAA


Ethnographic methods can provide insights into patients' perceptions of quality of care. We used ethnographic methods to examine problems related to answering patient call lights on one inpatient unit in the hospital. Communication through call bells consisted of 3 interrelated components. These included answering the call bell, communicating the patient's request, and following through with the request. Results of this study provided a deeper understanding of the nuances of power and control embedded within the issue of patient-caregiver communication and empowered unit staff to find solutions to the call bell problem.