Earlier research by Gardell and Gustafsson indicates a general discrepancy between perceived needs and organizational structure in Swedish somatic hospitals; the work organization directs the work process as if cure and medical treatment were the only appropriate goals in almost all kinds of health care settings. The standard organizational model for general hospitals, here named "the acute care model"--which is a merger of medical and administrative hierarchies--forces great segments of the staff into a work content that is neither appropriate for patients' needs nor satisfying for the personnel. The present study is a historical-sociological discourse in which the structural antecedents of the acute care model are traced. It gives an exposé of the main stages in the formation of the Swedish health care system from the middle ages to the present. In 1864 a regulation of the hospital boards was issued. This meant the definite consolidation of the acute care model and was in line with earlier developments, which were characterized by an incremental interorganizational activity demarcation that divided the core of institutional care into three branches: somatic hospitals, mental hospitals, and homes for the elderly. The driving forces in the formation of the total health care system are shown to be closely related to premedical and extramedical factors, such as military needs, mercantilism, and the emergence of the middle class.