Respecting Muslim Patients' Needs

  1. Respecting Muslim Patients' Needs
    By RONI CARYN RABIN
    New York Times; November 1, 2010

    A woman in her mid-30s wearing a hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering, comes to an urgent care center complaining of leg pain. The first thing she asks: "Are there any woman doctors around?"

    She declines to be alone in an exam room with a male doctor. She does not want to be touched by a man who is not a family member, even as part of a medical examination.

    It's a hypothetical situation, recounted in a new paper in The Journal of Medical Ethics, but the scenario neatly summarizes some of the dilemmas confronting health care workers in hospitals serving observant Muslim patients. When the traditional health care system cannot accommodate their needs, what are doctors and nurses to do?

    More: Respecting Muslim Patients’ Needs - NYTimes.com
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    About alan headbloom

    Joined: Jul '08; Posts: 78; Likes: 86
    Consultant, Cross-Cultural Medicine

    60 Comments

  3. by   lindarn
    I hate to sound like an in your face, opinionated, New Yorker. But if she came to an urgent care center, needing/wanting, medical attention, she can take what she gets, in terms of a medical provider, or she can go home and live with her pain/discomfort.

    I have had enough of individuals coming to this country, with widely different customs/ideas, etc, and then, when their needs cannot be met for obvious reasons, we are somehow supposed to bend over backwards, to figure out a way to accomodate them.

    I am waiting for someone to tell these people ,"when in Rome, do as the Romans do".

    JMHO and my NY $0.02.
    Lindarn, RN, BSN, CCRN
    Somewhere in the PACNW
    Last edit by lindarn on Nov 3, '10
  4. by   CVmursenary
    i agree with you linda, but if a female doctor is available, then accommodating the muslims preference would be nice. WHen you walk into an ER though, your really not in the position to be picky.
  5. by   merlee
    If you come to public clinic, you ned to be prepared to be seen by the doc available. Otherwise, go to a private MD of your choice. Bring your own chaperone if you must.
  6. by   cherryblossom88
    I agree with the rest of the posters....if you come into the ER seeking tx you should be prepared to be seen whichever MD is on shift. Lots of ERs may only have one MD working that shift , esp in smaller hospitals.
  7. by   ronnie0513
    I agree that if there's not a female doctor in the facility, then go somewhere else. But also every individual deserve to be respected no matter what religion they follow. I guess that's why i have my own private female doctor being that i'm a nurse as well as a muslim...............
  8. by   cherryames1949
    It is really all about respect. In my practice I have accomodated Orthodox Jews, Gypsies, Jehoveh Witnesses, and Muslims. We can not always fulfill every need or request but we can respect the person making it. Most of the time, making the effort goes a long way.
  9. by   martymoose
    just puttimg a spin on things. Do any of us think if we went to a country where our religion was not the predominating religion, that we would get any special considerations?
  10. by   One2gofst
    It is well within her right to refuse treatment by a male. However, that does not make it the hospital's responsibility to provide females physicians or nurses.

    One wouldn't reasonably go to a sushi bar and expect to receive spaghetti, but if you're hungry enough you'll deal with what they have. Health care isn't the same as eating, but the principal is the same. People have the right to choice, but they need to make a choice from the options available which, in this case would be treatment by a male or refusal of treatment.
  11. by   hiddencatRN
    Quote from lindarn
    I have had enough of individuals coming to this country, with widely different customs/ideas, etc, and then, when their needs cannot be met for obvious reasons, we are somehow supposed to bend over backwards, to figure out a way to accomodate them.
    Muslims can be Americans, you know.

    I don't understand how being respectful of our patients is a threat to American culture. I also don't understand why the very same phenomenon that is responsible for what IS American culture is a threat to us either.

    "The health care system may not always be able to fulfill all of a patient's requests, but the providers should at least explain what can reasonably be done and what the limits are, Dr. Padela said." What's unreasonable about this?
  12. by   LookingAhead
    hiddencatRN has it exactly - no one mentioned that this woman was not American, only that she was Muslim.

    To jrwest and lindarn: take a look at your prejudices.

    The fact is that even if she had been from another country, it would still be the responsibility of those who came in contact with her to try to provide her with appropriate, culturally sensitive care. Most nurses come into contact with a diverse group of patients; doing what they can to accommodate their patients within the limits of their time and the hospitals resources comes with the territory.
  13. by   GM2RN
    Quote from hiddencatrn
    muslims can be americans, you know.

    i don't understand how being respectful of our patients is a threat to american culture. i also don't understand why the very same phenomenon that is responsible for what is american culture is a threat to us either.

    no one said anything about this being a threat to our culture. it is frustrating to have to deal with people who come to you for help but have demands that can't be met, whether the demand is a female doctor, a private room, a specific narcotic or treatment, etc., etc., etc.

    "the health care system may not always be able to fulfill all of a patient’s requests, but the providers should at least explain what can reasonably be done and what the limits are, dr. padela said." what's unreasonable about this?
    i believe that everyone who has responded to this post has already agreed that this patient's request should be fulfilled if possible. it would become unreasonable if there were no female doctors available but the patient insisted anyway.
    Last edit by GM2RN on Nov 4, '10
  14. by   GM2RN
    Quote from LookingAhead
    hiddencatRN has it exactly - no one mentioned that this woman was not American, only that she was Muslim.

    To jrwest and lindarn: take a look at your prejudices.

    The fact is that even if she had been from another country, it would still be the responsibility of those who came in contact with her to try to provide her with appropriate, culturally sensitive care. Most nurses come into contact with a diverse group of patients; doing what they can to accommodate their patients within the limits of their time and the hospitals resources comes with the territory.

    Yes, the woman could be American, but most Muslims are not, and of those who are, most are not native-born. So it's reasonable to assume that the woman in the hypothetical story is from another country.

    HOWEVER, the OP has nothing to do with being American or not. It's about requests/demands by patients, whatever they may be, that either can't be fulfilled or would put a great strain on staff to do so.

    It is NOT a prejudice to be frustrated by this kind of thing when it happens so frequently.

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