Religion and Medicine

What the fuck is wrong with people? Seriously? Look at an excerpt from the articleReligion can trump medical advice, docs say“:

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Many US doctors believe that the religious convictions of their patients should outweigh their own professional advice when it comes to making certain medical decisions. When the patient is a child, however, a large majority of doctors say that they, and not the child’s guardian, should have the final say, regardless of the guardian’s religious beliefs.

More than half (57 percent) of the physicians surveyed said that a patient’s religious reason for a medical course of action should trump a doctor’s treatment advice. In contrast, the other 43 percent said it should not.

When it comes to making healthcare decisions for children, however, nearly 84 percent of doctors agreed that a physician’s medical decision should not be overridden by the religious beliefs of a child’s guardian.

The respondents were almost evenly divided about whether saving a person’s life justifies violating their religious beliefs, with 51 percent saying that saving a person’s life does not justify that religious violation.

How can more than half of American doctors surveyed believe that saving a life does not justify violating someone’s religious beliefs? At least they still seem to value the lives of children (although apparently, roughly one sixth of them don’t do even that), but don’t doctors have some kind of oath which keeps them from sitting around and doing nothing while someone dies?

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3 Responses to Religion and Medicine

  1. ReinnResauq says:

    It could be rationalized that some of those doctors have experienced the religious convictions of some of the more demented religious philosophies. Some people believe so strongly that certain medical procedures will send them to hell that they’d rather die and go to heaven. I’d imagine as a doctor it’s not worth the cajoling and possible lawsuits that would result. I doubt most of the surveyed doctors think that way, but I’m pretty sure a few do.
    And as for doctors believing religion can help the healing process, it can. I also recall reading a video game site that attributed one of it’s editor’s quick healing after an appendectomy to his love of video games. Anything that can make someone feel better and stronger can help the healing process. For some it’s religion, for others it’s family, for others still it’s Halo 2.

  2. Woolie Wool says:

    As long as you don’t harm anybody but yourself, you are free to practice whatever religious beliefs you want. Unsafe cars and driving habits and drugs are illegal because they harm those who come in contact with you. However, nothing prevents you from maxing out your credit cards, slashing your wrists, or dropping your wallet on the sidewalk. And you cannot use religion to deny a relative, spouse, or minor medical care.

  3. A Med Student says:

    I think I can offer some insight here.

    One of the foremost things that every US medical practitioner is ingrained with is the doctrine that medicine is a patient-centered profession. If a patient has a life-threatening illness, it is up to us to tell them all the ways we can try to help and save them; to try to convince them to allow us to save them, but we can only offer the options. I think the people who framed the poll-question had a clearly stilted agenda. The question makes it SOUND like the doctor is allowing their religious beliefs to determine how they will practice medicine.

    “The respondents were almost evenly divided about whether saving a person’s life justifies violating their religious beliefs, with 51 percent saying that saving a person’s life does not justify that religious violation.”

    The way I read this and understand it – ‘their’ is interpreted as being the patient’s worldview/religious beliefs. And that handily explains the discrepancy with children – as a child isn’t really capable (at least legally) of having beliefs that way. And so a doctor would rather go with their medical judgment than let the parent decide.

    Just my two cents.

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