“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”― C.S. Lewis
Let me say this up front. I prayed with some patients when I was a nurse. I also prayed for many more. I bet you might wonder if Dee is going to do a screed about discrimination against the spiritual expression of health professionals. Take a deep breath and settle on in.
Most major, non-religiously aligned, medical groups recognize the need to do a spiritual, well as a medical and psychological, assessment on patients.
Here is a good writeup in the AMA (American Medical Association) Journal of Ethics: Doing a Culturally Sensitive Spiritual Assessment: Recognizing Spiritual Themes and Using the HOPE Questions
During the last 10 years there has been a considerable increase in the number of studies showing positive associations between spirituality and health [1,2]. Incorporating spirituality into medical practice, however, continues to pose many challenges . These include the multicultural milieu in which medicine is practiced and the deeply personal meaning these issues carry for both patients and health care providers. A culturally sensitive spiritual assessment is a first step towards addressing the spiritual needs of patients . It also provides a tool through which health professionals can understand their own beliefs, biases, values, and needs as related to health care.
Here is another article written by David Hodge: A Template for Spiritual Assessment: A Review of the JCAHO Requirements and Guidelines for Implementation
It is particularly interesting because JCAHO is the accrediting body for health care institutions in the US. Ask any friend who helps run a hospital how much they fear the regular JCAHO evaluation visits.
Growing consensus exists regarding the importance of spiritual assessment. For instance, the largest health care accrediting body in the United States, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), now requires the administration of a spiritual assessment. Although most practitioners endorse the concept of spiritual assessment, studies suggest that social workers have received little training in spiritual assessment. To address this gap, the current article reviews the JCAHO requirements for conducting a spiritual assessment and provides practitioners with guidelines for its proper implementation.
In addition to helping equip practitioners in JCAHO-accredited settings who may be required to perform such an assessment, the spiritual assessment template profiled in this article may also be of use to practitioners in other settings
At the same time, it is important to note that people hold to many differing religious beliefs or no beliefs whatsoever. Here is a helpful chart from Wikipedia for beliefs in the US.
Here is the breakdown in the UK in Wikipedia.
Even within each religious group, there are differences in how people practicer their faith.
I present these stats to help Christians understand that they cannot assume that the person in the hospital bed believes as they do.
Healthcare professionals need to determine how a patient’s spiritual needs interact with their medical needs. During my daughter’s two lengthy surgeries, I was most grateful for the presence of the hospital chaplain as well as from my pastors and other church members.
It is also important to understand that the religious beliefs may vary with those surrounding the patient. Not only do you have a patients needs, but the needs of the family which sometimes conflict. Here is a good write up of the Karen Ann Quinlan case by the NYT. KAREN ANN QUINLAN, 31, DIES; FOCUS OF ’76 RIGHT TO DIE CASE
Most hospitals have hospital chaplains as well as the ability to reach out to pastors, priests, etc. to assist patients and their families. This sort of help assists healthcare professionals who must deal with their own set of religious practices. Social workers are often quite helpful in identifying religious needs.
In other words, folks, religious beliefs in the healthcare setting can be quite complicated. It it gets even more complicated when Christians and other religious groups are not sensitive to a patient’s practices of lack thereof.
As professionals, we are required to well care for all of our patient. This means we do not hold them hostage to our particular beliefs. Here is an example of such a situation≥
A UK Doctor is in trouble for praying with patients: Why we need to carefully read a news report.
The Christian Post reported UK agency reopens investigation into Christian doctor who prays with patients. When I first saw this I thought it was going to be one of those screeds from an anti-religion group or a *liberal* government agency. (Tongue in cheek.) I was wrong. Totally. In fact, if this report is correct, then I believe this praying physician foisted himself upon his unsuspecting patients.
As previously reported, Dr. Richard Scott of the Bethesda Medical Centre in Margate, Kent, faced the possibility of losing his medical license after a complaint was filed against him last year.
Scott, a general practitioner, was subject to a fitness-to-practice inquiry from the General Medical Council after a complaint was filed by the National Secular Society, (NSS) a British advocacy group promoting the strict interpretation of separation of church and state.
The organization claimed that Scott made a vulnerable patient feel uncomfortable by praying. The allegation was made to NSS by a friend of the patient, not the patient.
In this instance, note that the complaint was made by the friend of the patient, not the patient. The case was dismissed (rightfully so, IMO.) This outcome was reassuring to physicians who often interact with their patients on spiritual matters.
All’s well that ends well…right?
Some new information came to light and the General Medical Council (GMC) is reviewing their decision.
NSS’ challenge alleged that Scott’s patients have complained about religion being pushed on them.
Additionally, NSS pointed to an interview Scott did with The Daily Mail last month in which he said that he has discussed his faith with about 40 patients in the past with only about 10 of them issuing a complaint. One of those complaints, from 2012, went to the GMC.
Also, in an interview with BBC Radio Kent in December, Scott declared that as a Christian doctor, one must consider “who is your ultimate boss.”
“And it’s not the general medical council, it’s Jesus Christ,” Scott said. “And I’m prepared to take risks on behalf of Jesus because I’ve seen how much patients can benefit.”
Did you catch that? Out of 40 patients, 10 allegedly complained. That means that 25% of those he prayed with were not happy.
When a patient is in the hospital, perhaps facing a serious procedure, there is an unequal relationship between the doctor, the one who is perfuming the procedure, and the patient. What patient wants to miff off their doctor by refusing to pray with him before he started operating on their brain?
Now, let’s turn the table.
Supposed you are a devout Christian and your equally devout Wiccan doctor asks if she could pray for the upcoming surgery. Now, Dee would find that request absolutely fascinating and would tell her to go ahead just to see what that looked like with a view to writing a post about it. However, many patients would find such an interaction uncomfortable, not just because of the the faith expressed but because they were experiencing great anxiety regarding their medical care orjust not feeling well.
In regards to this physician, having 25% of his patients viewed his praying as a negative encounter. That physician is not blocked from praying privately for each and every patient. Or does praying out loud against the patient’s desires make him feel more effective?
I look forward to your thoughts on this matter.
Proof that nothing ever dies on social media.
I thought you might enjoy seeing this *Like* on one of my Tweets. This like occurred today 01/13/2020.
So, for the curious, here is a better link. I had to look it up because I forgot why I tweeted this. I’m still trying to figure out why I found it worthy of a Tweet.
Never, ever forget…the internet is forever.