When is it ethical to talk about religion with a patient? - page 2

I was talking with a collegue the other day and she described a conversation with a pt where it sounds as if she were basically evangelizing. Now I had been told by my pastor (Catholic priest), who... Read More

  1. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from Suesquatch
    If telling a patient about my beliefs entails that they will suffer for eternity because they don't believe as I do how does that proffer reassurance and alleviate guilt?
    On the flip side, if you shared your atheism, how would that make a person searching for God feel. I guess this makes me wonder if I should even share at all. . . . hmmmm.

    This is a good conversation to have - even though we've had them here before - lots of newbies and actually older nurses who may need to consider this issue again.

    Thanks for your input.

    steph
  2. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from stevielynn
    On the flip side, if you shared your atheism, how would that make a person searching for God feel. I guess this makes me wonder if I should even share at all. . . . hmmmm.
    I don't share it unless I know they have the same beliefs. Why would I want to shake them from something that brings them (hopefully) comfort and peace?

    If they're searching in a mainstream (Bible) way I'll supply a Bible. If their beliefs lean towards the East I'll find a Tao Te Ching and some Lao Tse. If they believe in God so do I. If they think that heaven has literal rooms in it furnished to their taste I'll help 'em decorate. I'm serious. My purpose is to make them feel better. And I do.



  3. by   TrudyRN
    A patient in ER once told a colleague of mine that he was afraid he was dying. There were several staff in the room, starting an IV, doing an EKG, drawing labs, etc. (chest pain pt) My colleague responded by explaining how Jesus saves and how the patient could be assured of salvation by accepting Jesus as His savior. The patient seemed pretty surprised. I think he was wanting more some assurance that he was going to stay alive. For her part, I think she was striking while she perceived the iron to be hot, very sincere, very open and up front about helping her patient get right with God. Nothing ever came of it that I know of.

    Since the patient brought up the topic, more or less, I guess maybe it was ok. He did not tell her to stop talking about it and she merely presented facts and left it alone. Not a high pressure scene. Somewhat awkward.
  4. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from TazziRN
    Discussing religion is one thing. Most often the pt brings it up and may ask what I believe. Sometimes, if a pt or relative seems very troubled, I will carefully share my beliefs to try to get them to talk to me, but I don't preach and I don't push......"I believe that miscarriage is God's way of stopping a pregnancy that wasn't developing normally. What do you think?" I have never had a pt or family get upset with me that way.

    Preaching to someone and trying to convert them....that's just plain wrong. My brother was an atheist. A family friend at the time was a very devout Catholic. The day my brother died, we were all at the hospital and he asked if he could call in a priest to baptize Chris. My mom said No. (She would have said No even if Chris were Christian, because we're not Catholic.) He sat there and said "But if we don't have him baptized, he won't go to Heaven."

    This is not something you say to a woman who'se son is dead and is just waiting for pronouncement!!!!!!! I understand that this was his belief, but he did not respect our or my brother's belief. That was 17 years ago, and I never forgave him for that. Especially after we found out he had already called in the priest who was at the bedside while we were in the waiting room. My mom caught him coming out of my brother's cubicle in the unit. We would not have been upset had it been an emergency and the friend had not had time to ask before acting. I myself, as well as doctors I've worked with, have baptized babies and fetuses in the ER because we didn't know if it had already been done and the parents weren't there yet. This "friend", however, went against our wishes.
    Did you baptize the babies and fetuses because you are Catholic? I would be absolutely furious if you did that without my permission to my Jewish baby.
  5. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from stevielynn
    On the flip side, if you shared your atheism, how would that make a person searching for God feel. I guess this makes me wonder if I should even share at all. . . . hmmmm.

    This is a good conversation to have - even though we've had them here before - lots of newbies and actually older nurses who may need to consider this issue again.

    Thanks for your input.

    steph
    So it's OK for a nurse to tell a pt that he/she (in the nurse's opinion) in going to be consigned to Hell for all eternity because the pt hasn't been saved?

    Some of these posts scare me. :uhoh21:
  6. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from TrudyRN
    A patient in ER once told a colleague of mine that he was afraid he was dying. There were several staff in the room, starting an IV, doing an EKG, drawing labs, etc. (chest pain pt) My colleague responded by explaining how Jesus saves and how the patient could be assured of salvation by accepting Jesus as His savior. The patient seemed pretty surprised. I think he was wanting more some assurance that he was going to stay alive. For her part, I think she was striking while she perceived the iron to be hot, very sincere, very open and up front about helping her patient get right with God. Nothing ever came of it that I know of.

    Since the patient brought up the topic, more or less, I guess maybe it was ok. He did not tell her to stop talking about it and she merely presented facts and left it alone. Not a high pressure scene. Somewhat awkward.
    That reminds me . . . an ambulance brought in a man who collapsed at home and we were coding him. When his wife got there she burst into tears and said "Please save him, he hasn't accepted Jesus into his heart and he won't go to heaven if he dies now". She was sobbing, holding his hand, talking to him. One of the EMT's got this look on her face, one of rage, and started to talk to the wife about the inappropriateness of the wife's comments . . . fortunately the EMT realized what she was doing and changed the tone and tried to calm the wife down and encouraged her to continue to talk to her husband. We were all shocked - but glad that the EMT realized that she was being unprofessional.

    The wife later said her husband was a very angry man and hated God and it scared her that he would end up in hell. She loved him very much.

    This was her belief system - it was not our place to try to talk her out of it. The man died. The woman fortunately didn't take offense at the EMT's initial angry comments. The EMT believes in God but doesn't believe in hell and thinks everyone goes to heaven. Which is her right - but she doesn't have the right to try to convert the woman on her husband's deathbed.

    I'd forgotten about this case until your story reminded me . . .

    steph
  7. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from Suesquatch
    I don't share it unless I know they have the same beliefs. Why would I want to shake them from something that brings them (hopefully) comfort and peace?

    If they're searching in a mainstream (Bible) way I'll supply a Bible. If their beliefs lean towards the East I'll find a Tao Te Ching and some Lao Tse. If they believe in God so do I. If they think that heaven has literal rooms in it furnished to their taste I'll help 'em decorate. I'm serious. My purpose is to make them feel better. And I do.



    I like your style. Very compassionate and individualized to the pt needs.
  8. by   PANurseRN1
    Quote from stevielynn
    That reminds me . . . an ambulance brought in a man who collapsed at home and we were coding him. When his wife got there she burst into tears and said "Please save him, he hasn't accepted Jesus into his heart and he won't go to heaven if he dies now". She was sobbing, holding his hand, talking to him. One of the EMT's got this look on her face, one of rage, and started to talk to the wife about the inappropriateness of the wife's comments . . . fortunately the EMT realized what she was doing and changed the tone and tried to calm the wife down and encouraged her to continue to talk to her husband. We were all shocked - but glad that the EMT realized that she was being unprofessional.

    The wife later said her husband was a very angry man and hated God and it scared her that he would end up in hell. She loved him very much.

    This was her belief system - it was not our place to try to talk her out of it. The man died. The woman fortunately didn't take offense at the EMT's initial angry comments. The EMT believes in God but doesn't believe in hell and thinks everyone goes to heaven. Which is her right - but she doesn't have the right to try to convert the woman on her husband's deathbed.

    I'd forgotten about this case until your story reminded me . . .

    steph
    There's a case where the family should have been taken out of the code room.
  9. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from TrudyRN
    Did you baptize the babies and fetuses because you are Catholic? I would be absolutely furious if you did that without my permission to my Jewish baby.
    I'll bet they only do this with babies from Catholic families.

    As a Christian, I wouldn't be offended, even though I don't believe in infant baptism. I think God takes all babies who die to heaven and it doesn't matter if someone baptizes or not. So, if someone did baptize my child it wouldn't change the outcome of what God does. He isn't bound by our choices . . .

    In my opinion of course . . .not trying to convert anyone.

    steph
  10. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from stevielynn
    I'll bet they only do this with babies from Catholic families.
    Actually, I knew a nurse who baptized all the babies "just in case."
  11. by   bopps
    I am a serious christian, but I don't think it is ethical to push my faith on anybody for any reason, unless they are crying out for help to find Jesus. Even then I would be extremely careful not to "shove christianity" down their throat. I do however SILENTLY pray for people quite often while at work. I find it to be a good solution. No one knows I am praying except God, and He still wins, without me saying anything audibly!! I also do not have a problem saying expressions that are a part of me like,"thank God" etc. If other coworkers can go around saying f@@ this and f @@@ that, an ocassional thank God shouldn't be a problem. I am also a very open minded person. If a believe in Allah or God as the Jewish people believe gives someone comfort in their life and their death, I am not going to judge them. That's not my job. My job is to show them love.
  12. by   pkapple
    Quote from Suesquatch
    Actually, I knew a nurse who baptized all the babies "just in case."
    Well, if you don't believe in baptism, or are of any other persusion...then the baptising of an infant doesn't mean anything more than if the nurse sang a lullaby or spoke in spanish. If however baptism were important to you it would relieve your spiritual stress.

    no harm-no foul
  13. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from pkapple
    Well, if you don't believe in baptism, or are of any other persusion...then the baptising of an infant doesn't mean anything more than if the nurse sang a lullaby or spoke in spanish. If however baptism were important to you it would relieve your spiritual stress.

    no harm-no foul
    Quote from TrudyRN
    Did you baptize the babies and fetuses because you are Catholic? I would be absolutely furious if you did that without my permission to my Jewish baby.
    I don't personally care. However, as you can see from Trudy's post, it would obviously offend her. Definite harm and foul.

close