EVANSTON, Ill. --- Sue and Will's daughter Tiffany was born prematurely and spent the next four and one-half months in hospitals. Tiffany was an extremely fussy eater. Sue, who was 19, had to keep explaining to physicians and nurses that the problem was not that her daughter was being held improperly or being fed ineptly.
Despite the bias she felt because of her age, Sue took her parenting job seriously. She insisted that Tiffany be transferred to another hospital when she felt that nurses did not change the tracheostomy tube that connected Tiffany to the ventilator frequently enough or clean the area around the tube properly. After Tiffany finally got home, Sue resuscitated her after she stopped breathing, confronted medical suppliers who failed to keep the baby's life-saving machine in good repair and detected signs of illness in Tiffany before home nurses did.
Described in the book "For the Sake of the Children" (The University of Chicago Press), Sue and Will's case illustrates how responsibility, in this case under extreme circumstances, is complicated in an organizational world. The book's co-authors, Carol A. Heimer, professor of sociology at Northwestern University, and Lisa R. Staffen, a doctoral student in sociology when the book was written, used the case as well as a host of records and interviews with parents, physicians, nurses and other medical personnel at two Midwestern neonatal intensive care units (NICU) to examine conditions under which people accept or reject responsibility.
On Saturday, Aug. 12, the "For the Sake of the Children" authors will receive the book prize from the Theory Section of the American Sociological Association, "given to recognize outstanding work in theory for a book published in the preceding four calendar years"; on Tuesday, Aug. 15, they will receive the Eliot Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association for a book "published in the prece
Contact: Pat Vaughan Tremmel