And when the shoe is on the other foot in health communication, so that a patient wants to reject treatment or medication, what then?

Jauary 17, 2012

Sometimes, life really is a race…

Here is my daughter pictured in a skull at the Head of the Charles rowing competition. Looking at it, I am thinking about how our discussion about conscience clauses ignores the other side of the story.

I was reminded of our right to refuse treatment based on our values and morals when I once more searched to find published research about how doctors, especially pharmacists, talk about these issues with patients when it means that a doctor/pharmacist is not going to provide medication or treatment.

Orr and Jensen conclude in the Journal of Medical Ethics,

“How should the clinician respond when a patient or family requests “inappropriate” treatment based on religious beliefs? As in all situations where there is disagreement about treatment options, good communication is the most important step towards resolution. The patient or family must clearly understand the medical situation. This may require repeated discussion, conversations with consultants,viewing of x-rays or other clinical data, or other efforts familiar to most clinicians. A management conference, which includes the patient/family, primary physician, consultants, bedside nurses and others from the care-team, is often the best way to ensure that such communication happens.” (1993, p. 145;

The article’s title?¬†“Requests for “inappropriate” treatment based on religious beliefs.”

I think the suggested course of communication in the decision-making scenario is a great model for how to talk about decisions when the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak…and the focus is conscience clauses and the provider’s religious beliefs.




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