Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Religion in the Workplace

Came across this in my studying...

You are caring for a 75 year-old male in the cardiac ICU who was admitted with chest pain. His troponins were elevated and the interventional cardiologist plans to take him for an emergency cardiac catheterization. While you're discussing the diagnosis and planned treatment with the patient, he states that he is afraid of dying during the procedure and asks you to pray for him. Which of the following is the most appropriate reply?

A. "I'd be happy to call a chaplain for you, sir."
B. "I am not religious, but if you are then prayer could be helpful."
C. "I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers."
D. "We are not of the same faith, so my prayers may not help you."
E. "Praying is fine, but it has not been scientifically shown to be efficacious in your situation."

The USMLE answer appears to be C. There's nothing wrong with referring them to a chaplain but in an acute setting like this, physicians should recognize and respect the belief systems of their patients regardless of their own beliefs. The topic of religion should not taint the treatment of a patient in any way and religion should only be discussed if brought up by the patient. Their religious beliefs are to be used to help ease their burden and should never be disagreed on by the physician. In the interests of non-maleficence, the physician should at least agree in a generic sense to keep the patient in their prayers.



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