When is it ethical to talk about religion with a patient? - page 3

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   Simplepleasures
    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.



    Yes I agree , whatever makes them feel better, we can get cues from them or their famiies as to what might give them comfort- if they seek it.I had a very agitated little old lady who would not stay in bed, could no longer walk.She was trying to say the "Hail Mary",getting upset because she couldnt remember all of it. I am not Catholic so I dont know how I knew this prayer, but I did! I actually recorded it and put the recorder next to her bed and she calmed down and fell asleep peacefully.I left a note to the staff clergy person to get a tape of the Hail Mary, so we could have our tape player back, we recorded report.Whatever it takes to clam (ooo, I actually meant to say calm)and comfort.:zzzzz
  2. by   rn/writer
    Quote from Suesquatch
    I don't share it [atheism] 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.
    Your conduct is an excellent example of the way we should all behave.

    I wish all atheists shared your openness and respect. Unfortunately, many of the people now calling themselves atheists would be more properly labeled anti-theists. They don't believe, nor do they think anyone else should. They don't just want freedom of religion (or lack thereof); they want freedom from religion and that includes anyone else's expression of it that might cross their path. I feel bad for genuine live-and-let-live atheists who stand to get a bad rap because of this.

    As far as the baptism thoughts go, I guess, regardless of my beliefs, I'd find it hard to think negatively of anything done out of concern for my loved one. I might not agree with the need for the sacrament performed or the method, but I would trust in God to look at the heart of the one who performed it and take the entire situation into account. That is not to say that in a workplace situation I wouldn't object on someone else's behalf. Only that on a personal level, I can't see holding a grudge against someone--misguided or not--who was trying to do a good thing.
  3. by   ICRN2008
    I had a dying patient's wife once who wanted to talk to me about her religious faith. She asked me if I was a Christian, and I responded in the affirmative. She wanted me to pray with her, and I felt comfortable doing so, so I did. I felt that it was okay in this circumstance because the wife initiated it, and my clinical instructor agreed.

    However, I never bring up the subject of religion with patients and their families other than to the offer the services of the chaplain or say something like "Is there any way we can accommodate your religious or spiritual beliefs during your stay?" I let them take the lead, because I do not want to risk offending them. I know that I would not want my health care provider pushing his or her religious beliefs on me, so I try to do the same for my patients.

    I have worked for a Catholic health care system for the past four and a half years, but they do not condone staff member trying to convert patients under any circumstance. It sounds like your co-workers actions are innapropriate by most health care system's standards.
  4. by   tencat
    I walked in on a patient who had a pastor and his wife asking if they could pray with her. She said yes, and I figured I'd stand there respectfully, head bowed, and listen as they prayed. The prayer was kind of long winded, and when it was over and the pastor left I said 'Well, it's nice they took time out to pray with you." The patient looked at me and said "I thought he'd never shut up! Talk, talk, talk!" I had to laugh because that's not how I perceived her reaction at the time.
    I try to let the patient take the lead on the religion thing. I haven't had one ask me to pray with/for them, but I probably wouldn't feel comfortable doing that and would request clergy to come in, unless the patient was the one doing the praying and I was an innocent bystander!
    I don't know what I am or what I believe, but I'm open to pretty much whatever it is that a patient believes. I think it's unethical to force our religious views on someone in such a vulnerable situation, even if we mean well.
  5. by   Spidey's mom
    Quote from 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.
    That reminds me of another thing - sometimes when a baby is born into a bad situation (meth addict mom) I will pray over the baby while I'm rocking him/her in the nursery. Silently of course - I am heartsick over the poor children going home with some of the parents I meet.

    steph
  6. by   tnbutterfly
    When is it ethical to talk about religion with a patient?

    I am employed jointly by a hospital and a church as a Parish Nurse. One of my responsibilities is to assess and meet the spiritual needs of patients. I frequently pray with patients, but I always ask if they would like prayer first. Most of these patients are members of my church. However, I am asked to visit others who may be family or friends of church members or are out-of-towners hospitalized for surgery, accidents, etc. I do not feel it is my position to "shove religion down their throats", but rather to be there to offer comfort and encouragement. I try to assess what their religious orientation is based on conversation with them. If I determine that prayer is appropriate, I ask if they would like prayer. Most of the time, this is graciously received. In fact, some are surprised that a "nurse" would pray with them. I also ask if they would like to speak to the hospital chaplain or other appropriate religious official. In cases where I believe that prayer may not be appropriate, I try to offer comfort in other ways.
  7. by   TazziRN
    Baptising fetuses: we have a very very large Catholic Hispanic population so I'm pretty safe in assuming the mom who had the miscarriage is not Jewish. Might not be Catholic, but probably not Jewish. I am not Catholic, but a priest once told me that in a pinch, it doesn't matter who does the baptising as long as it happens. As for the babies who code in the ER and no parents are around, we take a chance an play it safe that a baptism would be a good thing. I think if if I accidentally baptised a Jewish baby or a baby of any other non-Christian faith, that the God of that belief would understand the intent and forgive. I think a rabbi would too. And this is not something that would be done if the parents are present, only when the baby is alone and there does not seem to be any other recourse. I'm sorry that you, as a Jewish parent, would be furious with me but I would hope that you would come to understand that I made the best decision possible at the time. If my baby were in extremis and I was not there to tell the staff what religion we are, I would be grateful if a Jewish nurse said whatever is said over Jewish babies because it would open a road to Heaven for my child. It may not be the road I would take as part of my faith, but if a Jewish nurse made sure that my baby made her way back to God in the only way that she knew how, that would be good enough for me.
  8. by   Midwest4me
    Quote from GardenDove
    I ususally follow the pts lead, or look for clues in the room as to their religious persuasion or belief system....

    Does anyone here pray with pts? I've done that a couple of times, but generally I treat religious beliefs as a private matter.
    I'll preface my statement by proclaiming first that I am a Christian. I, too, usually follow the patient's lead. However, if I know the pt is a Christian, I will indeed offer to pray with him/her ESPECIALLY if, in the past, we have done so. I have never encountered problems doing this. The gesture has always been appreciated.
  9. by   GardenDove
    Regarding baptizing babies whose parents aren't Catholic, it's against the rules of the Church. You are not supposed to baptize a baby without permission of the parents.
  10. by   GardenDove
    Quote from rn/writer
    Your conduct is an excellent example of the way we should all behave.

    I wish all atheists shared your openness and respect. Unfortunately, many of the people now calling themselves atheists would be more properly labeled anti-theists. They don't believe, nor do they think anyone else should. They don't just want freedom of religion (or lack thereof); they want freedom from religion and that includes anyone else's expression of it that might cross their path. I feel bad for genuine live-and-let-live atheists who stand to get a bad rap because of this.
    How true, yes there certainly are some militant athiests who seem offended that others believe in God. It's important for all people to respect the beliefs of others and not belittle them or try to surpress the expression thereof.

    I never could figure out why some non believers are so disturbed by something they don't believe in. :uhoh21:
  11. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from TazziRN
    Baptising fetuses: we have a very very large Catholic Hispanic population so I'm pretty safe in assuming the mom who had the miscarriage is not Jewish. Might not be Catholic, but probably not Jewish. I am not Catholic, but a priest once told me that in a pinch, it doesn't matter who does the baptising as long as it happens. As for the babies who code in the ER and no parents are around, we take a chance an play it safe that a baptism would be a good thing. I think if if I accidentally baptised a Jewish baby or a baby of any other non-Christian faith, that the God of that belief would understand the intent and forgive. I think a rabbi would too. And this is not something that would be done if the parents are present, only when the baby is alone and there does not seem to be any other recourse. I'm sorry that you, as a Jewish parent, would be furious with me but I would hope that you would come to understand that I made the best decision possible at the time. If my baby were in extremis and I was not there to tell the staff what religion we are, I would be grateful if a Jewish nurse said whatever is said over Jewish babies because it would open a road to Heaven for my child. It may not be the road I would take as part of my faith, but if a Jewish nurse made sure that my baby made her way back to God in the only way that she knew how, that would be good enough for me.
    I know you do it in good faith and with the utmost respect for everyone. I would still be furious. I think.
  12. by   TrudyRN
    Quote from stevielynn
    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
    I know but I still find it absolutely, totally presumptuous and disrespectful. Even though I assume this nurse doesn't do it with evil intent. I trust she means well but I still find it just totally invasive and find myself comparing it to unwanted sexual or other touching. :trout: You know, how you feel that touch forever. Perhaps the history of Judaism has something to do with it. Severe persecution, forced "conversions" to Catholicism (sorry if I misspelled that), and such hatred and terrorization down through the ages - these are why, perhaps, I am reacting so strongly. She is practicing her religion on babies she doesn't know are Catholic. And antoher poster here says that her priest says it is not proper practice of Catholicism to baptize non-Catholic babies. Go figure. :uhoh21:
  13. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from GardenDove
    How true, yes there certainly are some militant athiests who seem offended that others believe in God. It's important for all people to respect the beliefs of others and not belittle them or try to surpress the expression thereof.

    I never could figure out why some non believers are so disturbed by something they don't believe in. :uhoh21:
    There are also militant Christians that are offended by those that do not believe in Christ. I personally can never understand why some believers are so disturbed by those that do not believe, and that our lives also are fulfilling.

    Witness the annual "happy Holidays" vs "Merry Christmas" feud fest. In what way, is the inclusive phrase destructive to Christianity? It clearly references "Holy Days" but covers all of the many that make this World a great place. But someone will always get upset over a mere phrase during the very time that all of us should be working for the peace of the world at large.

    And the question that I posed continues to be ignored. Oh well.

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