|Author(s)||Pamela Hudak, Shannon Clark, Geoffrey Raymond|
|Title||Some interactional consequences of medical specialization: The omni-relevance of surgery in treatment recommendations by orthopaedic surgeons|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, Medical EMCA, Medical consultations|
This article examines treatment recommendations in orthopedic surgery consultations and shows how surgery is treated as “omni-relevant” within this activity, providing a context within which the broad range of treatment recommendations proposed by surgeons is offered. Using conversation analysis to analyse audiotaped encounters between orthopedic surgeons and patients, we highlight how surgeons treat surgery as having a special, privileged status relative to other treatment options by (1) invoking surgery (whether or not it is actually being recommended) and (2) presenting surgery as the “last best resort” (in relation to which other treatment options are calibrated, described and considered). This privileged status surfaces in the design and delivery of recommendations as a clear asymmetry: Recommendations for surgery are proposed early, in relatively simple and unmitigated form. In contrast, recommendations not for surgery tend to be delayed and involve significantly more interactional work in their delivery. Possible implications of these findings, including how surgeons' structuring of recommendations may shape patient expectations (whether for surgery or some alternative), and potentially influence the distribution of orthopedic surgery procedures arising from these consultations, are considered.