Caring for Jehovah's witnesses - page 8

by cu-n-hvn 60,620 Views | 113 Comments

I am pursuing my BSN. As part of my current class I am researching the difficulties of caring for patients with the Jehovah's witness' beliefs. If anyone has an experience that he/she can share with me about your personal... Read More


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    I care for a woman on a regular basis that is Jehovah's witness. She always comes in with a low H & H. She suffers from chronic anemia and she always refuses a transfusion. We know that she is Jehovah's witness and know that she will refuse the blood, but we always have to ask. It is frustrating at times because she gets dangerously low and she is always saying how bad she feels and you wonder, "Why not just take the blood and feel better?" But I respect her decision and her strong faith and sometimes we just have to put aside our own beliefs and do the best we can for our patients even though we may not agree or we might do things differently.
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    hi this is my first day and first time i post comments on this web page .Iam seriously considering to become a Jehova Witness soon. I got this new job in a local hospital in central florida and the article you wrote called all my attention Iam a registered nurse too .My question is how did you manage to be a nurse a JW and being able to let the hospital know that you are not able in your practice to give blood transfusions cause is contrary to the scriptures.Thanks .Will be helpful for me to make an informed decision and follow biblical advises.[QUOTE]
    Quote from rnwaller
    I too am an RN, who is also one of Jehovah's Witnessess. I have tried to read the thread so I would not repeat anything.

    I have had the privilidge of doing a lecture on transfusion free medicine. I consulted the Watchtower's Hospital Liason Committee as previously mentioned.

    To help those RNs trying to decide if a specific procedure (such as the surfactant) is acceptable, I will review the principle from my lecture. The Bible states once blood is removed from the body it is to be poured on the groundg, therefore accepting a transfusion from a bag of blood which has been stored is against the writing of the Bible and not accepted by Jehovah's Witnesses. One post mentioned a witness doing a pre-surgery blood bank donation, this is not within the Bible principle.

    The other matters such as, hemodialysis and bypass is (as already mentioned) are "matters of conscious" for each witness. No specific Bible text refers to this issue so one must make a personal decision about such things as a continuous circut, hemodilution or blood fractions ie. Epogen (as proteins pass from mother to fetus).

    Some facts I discovered preparing for my lecture may surprise some of you.
    The anethesia "standard" of needing a Hgb 10.0 for surgery has no documentation or research behind it. I have known several patients with Hgb <5 who survived just fine without transfusions - those patients who everyone thinks would have been saved "if only they had blood," certainly is not always true. If a patient looses 50% of their blood volume through trauma or surgery their fatality is 80% with or without transfusion.
    Post-op infection rates increase 25% for patients receiving blood transfusions.
    At least for prostate and breast cancers, relapse rates increase as much as 80% for patients who receive blood transfusions as part of their treatment in comparison for those who do not get blood (we all realize their are MANY other factors in this mix.)

    I hope you all will realize that we are all people, just as you would not serve a pork roast to a devout Jewish person, please educate your Witness patient so they don't end up in the same position.

    Thanks to all those nurses out their who take the time to be true patient advocates.

    Michelle
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    Just reading the whole of this thread from the start should offer you some insight, from many points of view.
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    Quote from MegRN84
    I don't get a chance to talk to too many fellow Jehovah's Witnesses who are RN's. I am curious to know how you deal with the issue of blood transfusions.
    Some in our religion would give the blood transfusion as a matter of conscience feeling they are simply following a doctor's order. Others (as in my case) ask the RN they are checking the blood with to start the transfusion, and they monitor the infusion from there. Either is acceptable. So I am just curious.
    Hey Meg. I too am one of Jehovah's Witnesses, however I'm just now finishing up my pre-reqs and applying to a nursing program. I was actually searching this forum to see if I could find the answer to the exact question you just asked! I am interested in going into emergency nursing, so I know this will definitely be an issue. You already clarified one question that I had, which was if a nurse can administer blood transfusions, and if so, under a doctor's direction or on their own. My friend's father has been the head ED nurse at his hospital for some fifteen odd years, and according to my friend, he just asks another nurse to perform the transfusion. I've never actually gotten to talk to him personally, so I don't know if he does something similar to what you do, or has the other nurse do everything. By the way, what's involved in monitoring the infusion once it is given?
    Thanks for your help, Chris
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    Hello again,

    You mention this patient had chronic anemia. Is she getting the full follow up? Does she have a hematologist, is she getting Epogen? Iron?
    May be this is all true but I do sometimes find that a patient will refuse a transfusion, then no aggressive follow up is made.
    She is in my prayers.

    Michelle
    Nurseismade RN likes this.
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    Quote from tophthegoph
    Hey Meg. I too am one of Jehovah's Witnesses, however I'm just now finishing up my pre-reqs and applying to a nursing program. I was actually searching this forum to see if I could find the answer to the exact question you just asked! I am interested in going into emergency nursing, so I know this will definitely be an issue. You already clarified one question that I had, which was if a nurse can administer blood transfusions, and if so, under a doctor's direction or on their own. My friend's father has been the head ED nurse at his hospital for some fifteen odd years, and according to my friend, he just asks another nurse to perform the transfusion. I've never actually gotten to talk to him personally, so I don't know if he does something similar to what you do, or has the other nurse do everything. By the way, what's involved in monitoring the infusion once it is given?
    Thanks for your help, Chris



    As a Jehovahs Witness and a RN I do not like having to be involved in administering blood but sometimes there is nobody else to do it. All of my colleagues know I am a Witness and are understanding if I ask them if they would start that transfusion etc. Thankfully I work in Renal and our Consultants are used to correcting anaemia without blood because of the impliations of compromising a patients chances of a kidney transplant if they build up antibodies.
    When I am in the situation where I have to be involved in the transfusion I aware of the precident set in the bible in Daniel - I won't go into any further detail as I don't think it is appropriate in a public forum, but just to say that it involves three young men who had to serve food having blood in it although they wouldn't partake themselves.
    Likewise in work as long as patients are fully aware of the risks etc - and I believe in the US you have to sign a consent form for a BT - then although it is not something I would want I understand that it is part of my role as a nurse.
    Hope this helps
    psychnurse1998 and tophthegoph like this.
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    I am agreeing with Liverpool Jane, as an RN and a JW I try to avoid hanging blood. In the US it is always two nurses who hang blood (so I am never doing it 'solo'), and after the blood is hanging it is my job to monitor the patient (as nurses do all the time.)

    The Bible also states that free will is a choice (not always the right choice) so if the patient with his/her physician has consented to have blood, it is not my place to impose my religious beliefs on them.

    I hope this helps. - Michelle
    nursey2008 and tophthegoph like this.
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    That does help Michelle, thanks. Just one more quick question, when you say you monitor the patient afterwards, I'm assuming this means you are just making sure they don't have a bad reaction to the blood, right? Or do you have to sometimes alter the amount of blood being transfused or something along those lines? Not that it matters, I'm just curious.
    Chris
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    Quote from cu-n-hvn
    I am pursuing my BSN. As part of my current class I am researching the difficulties of caring for patients with the Jehovah's witness' beliefs. If anyone has an experience that he/she can share with me about your personal feelings in caring for a Jehovah's witness, I would greatly appreciate it. I am new to the discussion board and look forward to hearing from you.
    I go along with respecting others patients belliefs and cultures. If because of one persons beliefs, medicines gets to learn the outcomes of not having blood transfusions even when current knowledge recommends it, I think there might be a good outcome. And no one had to volunteer as a guinea pig to test it out, saving people money.

    I dont view children as property of parents, so I dont think they should control their care or put their health at risk. I believe Christian science, believes in withholding medical care that has resulted in children dying. but i guess thats another topic. I guess one could compare the cases of those that have died from reactions to blood trasnsufions to those that have refused them. I dont know if that has been studied. If my brain is starving for oxygen, please send as many packed cells to it as soon as possible. I dont think its the function of plasma expanders to carry oxygen, I am glad JW's at least come to hospital for care.
    Just please make sure you get the right blood type.
    Last edit by psychnurse1998 on Feb 4, '08 : Reason: Needed to add one more line
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    I continue to monitor the patient (which would include transfusion reaction) just as if I hung any other medication. That is, in essence, a nurses job.

    Keep up the great work everbody.


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