Ph.D. Sociology, University of Chicago, 1976
M.A. Sociology, University of Chicago, 1974
B.A. Wesleyan University, 1970
My research focuses on the culture of medicine. In particular, how health care professionals make sense of experiences in which time-pressured decisions are required in situations filled with un-resolvable uncertainty. When those decisions lead to adverse outcomes, I am interested in which decisions are considered blameless and blameworthy. I have three ongoing funded research projects: (1) My RWJ Health Investigator Award looks at how ideas about safety move from national policy-setting bodies formulate ideas about ‘safety’ that then move into administrative offices of hospitals where they are converted into policies that are then embraced or evaded on the floors where care is provided; (2) an ethnographic exploration of mandated duty hour limits on graduate medical education, especially as it impacts patient care and definitions of professionalism; and (3) a federally funded, state-coordinated initiative to reduce complications in surgery and improve the culture of safety in surgical departments. I continue to work on the sociology of bioethics, research ethics, and the regulation of research; and the rise and fall of health care problems in the public arena. What would you do? Juggling Bioethics and Ethnography is my most recent book (University of Chicago Press 2008). I am currently working on a manuscript: What is a Medical Mistake? Forty Years Wondering.