When Faith Creates False Hope

Nurses Spirituality


  • Specializes in Emergency, Med-Surg, Progressive Care.

You are reading page 5 of When Faith Creates False Hope


15 Posts

As a nurse and someone who is fairly areligious, I respect a persons right to their faith, because at the end of the day its not about me, its about ensuring the best outcomes for that patient.

I work in palliative and aged care. I have yet to see someone who is in end stage disease miraculously not die. Working in aged care I have no seen someone start regressing in age either. I'm honest with my patients and their families when they ask me about the prognosis for their loved one, although I will always qualify it with "while it appears X is going to happen, we dont know what will happen until it happens" or words to that effect

Dont have an issue with organising for the vicar/reverend to come either.

I agree with you.


2 Articles; 43 Posts

Good evening Kabfighter. First off, I want to send my condolences to the loved one's of that patient and hopefully he is at peace today. I know that this incident was years ago but it is a very controversial topic. Thank you Kabfighter for your input.

My personal opinion regarding the matter and in reply to your comments " ...we have a terminally-ill patient, and a family member says, "I believe that God will heal her," do we have a professional obligation to reiterate the prognosis and dismiss their religious beliefs, or just nod our heads? Creating false hope is unethical, but it is also not our place to argue with peoples' religious beliefs.".... are that we must remain professional. I do agree with you when you mention not arguing with people's beliefs, however, this does not necessarily mean that we are being unethical or giving false hope. Since we are not in those people's shoes, we cannot possibly know exactly how they feel or their complete beliefs surrounding the matter. Even if the people involved in the client's life seem completely off in their spiritual or religious beliefs, we as nurses, must put our own biases and convictions aside. By doing this, we are respecting everyone's wishes and remaining professional. This concept is similar to being a tattoo artist. I have heard stories about people requesting offensive or seemingly peculiar tattoos. A professional tattoo artist would refrain from commenting on what he/she thinks is best for the client unless asked. I hope that my comments help you to get a better idea of how I feel regarding the ethical care of a terminally ill patient.



Persephone Paige, ADN

1 Article; 696 Posts

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss. James 4:3

I am a person of faith, myself. But asking God to spare my 86 year old grandmother seemed like a set up. We are meant to die. Asking God to grant her peace and me the strength to deal with the loss is a more reasonable request.

Same with kids and the trouble they can get themselves into. Ideally, it would be great if the kid would stop acting up. But, they often don't. Faith for me is trusting that what is meant to be, will be. Some stuff is none of my beeswax, like someone else's journey. They must go where they need to go, to learn what they need to learn. Faith is accepting that and not losing my grip because I don't get my way in their journey.

I also don't see life in terms of years. Life is not about me... I'm in it, but I'm a piece of the puzzle. I believe we are born with an imprint, a spiritual blue print. This is not a conscious plan. Rather, an instinctive knowing. And every breath we take, no matter how long it lasts, is moving towards that objective. When that objective is met, towards the whole of God's divine plan, we die.

Because I am human, I can tend to think everything is my business. It's not. My job is to be there for others, to support and feel. When I think I know best how the outcome should be, I wind up miserable.


1 Post

I'm with Elle23 on this one and can only add; is hope ever a bad thing? I don't think so, although it can make the nursing job for that certain patient more difficult, if that is the even the right word. I think nurses do their job to the best of their ability and try their best to not get into the spiritual part of it if in disagreement with it.

Mr. Murse

403 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care/Vascular Access.

This is an old thread but still a relevant topic.

I've never had a patient who was declared brain dead and the family insisted on keeping them on life support, but I've had quite a few patients who were actively and painfully dying and the family insisted we continue to treat them aggressively because they believed god was going to heal them. To me, this is almost worse because we know the patient is, at least to some degree, still "in there" even though they may be too sick and/or sedated to be acknowledging it fully.

One patient in particular always stick out in my mind when this topic comes up. A few years ago my ICU had a patient who was, through a long series of unfortunate situations, in multi-system failure. Multiple doctors and surgeons had seen the patient and there was nothing more we could do for them. Palliative care was on board, and the patient was declining slowly and steadily every day, yet one of the children who was POA was convinced that god was going to heal them.

It came to the point that some of us nurses literally were feeling guilty because it felt like we were torturing the patient. They were emaciated and severely jaundiced with skin sloughing off, intubated and on multiple drips. Every time you were assigned this patient it was like playing hot potato, hoping to get through the shift without them finally coding on you, because we knew coding this poor shell of a person would be gruesome.

For weeks we kept this poor person alive because "god".

Finally their body gave up, and the POA mercifully stopped the code before we destroyed the patient's poor body with compressions. It still haunts me a little bit, seeing that sad yellow wasting human suffering because their kid was too delusional to let them go with dignity.

I've had a few other similar cases, but that one always sticks out.

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