When is it ethical to talk about religion with a patient? - page 8

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   GardenDove
    This pt was a former pastor, he also was a PITA for some of the previous nurses. I told him I was Catholic and he found that acceptable. I was able to establish a good rapport with him and his son, who was driving everyone crazy. The pt also owned a sheet metal, heating and airconditioning biz, and it turned out my son worked for him a few years back. They told me they didn't like the other nurses because they didn't chit chat enough, but only talked about the IV and the equipment. lol
  2. by   Tweety
    I took care of an elderly gentlement the other day who was in a horrible accident, and had been there for two month...trached, broken bones the whole nine yards. Finally he was on the mend, I got him out of bed, started talking to him. I asked him how he was...."well beaten and battered, but the Lord is good.........". We had an nice conversation and obviously he wanted to talk about his faith. I interjected a little bit to keep him talking. I was in awe, and a little jealous, of his simple, yet absolute complete total faith.

    He had an amazing story to tell. I'm glad I'm comfortable enough with my own beliefs (which were not necessary to share with the patient, because the conversation was not about me) to not have missed this moment.
    Last edit by Tweety on Jan 13, '07
  3. by   tnbutterfly
    thanks garden dove and tweety for sharing these stories. both are prime examples of patients with spiritual needs that needed to be met. i'm glad that you both were sensitive to their needs and were comfortable enough to carry on a discussion following the patient's lead and meeting those needs. i especially like your last sentence tweety...."i'm glad i'm comfortable enough with my own beliefs (which were not necessary to share with the patient, because the conversation was not about me) to not have missed the moment.

    i'm sure these patients greatly appreciated having someone to talk to about this, since many times healthcare workers tend to neglect or shy away from this need which, in many cases with those who are hospitalized, is as important as their physical needs.
  4. by   caroladybelle
    Quote from GardenDove
    I think people were thinking of in the public forum, for instance atheists who can't stand it if a prayer is recited at a football game. This thread has been very civil. Most non-believers mind their own business, but some get lawyers and try to remove any aspect of religion from the public view. I responded to another post about that, hence my comment.
    No one "prevents" prayers being recited in public forums - the prayers go on. They just are not announced over the loud speaker. There is no lawyer, believer or disbeliever of any type that can prevent anyone from praying at any time in any place. And as your Messiah himself indicated, the loud over the top prayers are discouraged, anyway.

    For every raging Atheist/Pagan that you point out, there are believers of various types that pull the same "I should be able to push my beliefs on the whole world - and they must put up with it without complaint". Witness Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, etc.

    If I, as a Jew, can hold my Faith intact without have organized prayers at a football game, or a Dreidal hanging from every light post, paid for by the tax payers, why can't yours?

    There is no problem with supporting a patient's Faith and discussing religion - their room is their home, within reason. There IS a problem with seeking to convert them, even if you feel that they are absolutely wrong in their beliefs. And if one cannot separate one's beliefs and therefore YOUR needs from what is their needs, step away from their bedside. And find a caregiver that can care for their needs without seeking to convert.

    It is not about us in that room, it is about them.

    It is no different in matters of sexuality (if you believe that they would be "healthier" if straight rather than gay), DNRs (you feel that the patient would be "better off" if DNR rather than their choice of "Full Code"), or religion (your pt would be "healthier" if they would accept blood products, but as they are Jehovah's Witness, they will not)

    You do not have to like their choices nor agree with them, but barring them being dangerous/harmful to others or fall into illegalities, to a certain extent, you must accept them or find someone who can.
  5. by   GardenDove
    Thanks TnButterfly for the compliment. It's those little niceties that make an impression on pts. I was taken aback by my pt trying to evangelize me and was thankful that my answer was acceptable because I didn't really want to get into listening to him try to convert me. I was able to turn around this man and his family's negative attitude towards the hospital and staff last night, it was great. Hopefully he'll have a better day today.

    I agree, it's all about the pt and to me that's the best part of the job, drawing them out and getting to know them. I'm really intuitive with them, and it's almost like detective work, finding some common ground, and then they open up like a flower. I find with male pts they love to talk about their jobs. That always softens them up and before you know it you've unraveled their whole philosophy on life.
    Last edit by GardenDove on Jan 13, '07 : Reason: typo again
    Quote from GardenDove
    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 happens to be a medical ethics specialist and was at one time the chief ethicist for a large Catholic healthcare system. He told me that it's not ethical to try to convert pts and that you have to be very careful about this.

    Religion is an awkward subject anyways, much like politics. I ususally follow the pts lead, or look for clues in the room as to their religious persuasion or belief system. But, then again, I don't personally believe people go to Hell just for their beliefs. I have one nurse friend who told me that she will whisper the name of Jesus in dying pt's ears.

    Does anyone here pray with pts? I've done that a couple of times, but generally I treat religious beliefs as a private matter.
    One of my greatest rewards in patient care was speaking to a young man dying of dilated cardiomyopathy. I simply asked him if he was saved? He replied that he did not know for sure. I took the lead and suggested that I could have a pastor visit him. He greatfully thanked me. The next day my pastor saw him and they prayed the sinners prayer together. In a day or two this patient expired. I went to his visitation and was greeted and thanked by his family members for leading him to salvation. I do believe that heaven is reserved for believers and a great many of us have ignored the offer of salvation. If you believe in the word of God (the bible) then you know there is only one way to get to heaven. Nursing is a holistic profession and spirituality is part of human nature...so go for it.