Patient dies as JW paramedic refuses to administer blood product -- thanks, Religious Freedom Act!

by FatFreek 2005 12 Replies latest social current

  • FatFreek 2005
    FatFreek 2005

    (I realize this topic may have already been addressed so I apologize in advance.)

    Would paramedic be an occupation be that one of Jehovah's Witnesses simply cannot accept, knowing fully well that you would be in a likely position to administer blood.

  • sloppyjoe2
    Maybe I am just unaware, but when do paramedics give blood?
  • OnTheWayOut

    In Illinois, paramedics do not administer blood. I doubt they do it in any state. They just do not have the time and equipment to carry different blood-types in refrigerators and they certainly do not have the time and equipment to determine the blood-type of the patients.

    They put fluid in the blood. Typically, the fluid is saline. It is not refrigerated. They may put drugs in also, but not blood itself.

    I have heard of medical advancements where some blood products could replace saline, but they would still not be whole blood, so Watchtower could say these "fractions" are okay. I don't know of any areas where these products are in use by paramedics, but it's a big world and there probably are some places.

  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer
    Would paramedic be an occupation be that one of Jehovah's Witnesses simply cannot accept, knowing fully well that you would be in a likely position to administer blood.

    That's a good question. Probably this is already answered in black-letter-law, but certainly common-law has answered it. There are hundreds if not thousands of JWs working in the healthcare field and those who cannot bring themselves to administer blood transfusion have had to refuse positions where doing so is inevitable precisely because of legalities, not to mention ethically. What I'm saying is that this is not new ground for JWs. Courts, legislators and medical provider centers have been navigating this ground for decades to get to the current standard of care.

  • OrphanCrow

    In Canada, paramedics administer blood and blood products.

    In Saskatchewan, paramedics carry and administer blood - a friend of mine was given blood in his home before being transported by ambulance to the hospital.

    This is from a training module for Portage College of Paramedics in Alberta:

    The incidents of administering blood products in the field are very rare, except perhaps in the air ambulance setting. However, with the trend of increased patient transfers and specialized health care centers, the frequency Paramedics are required to initiate and monitor the transfusion of blood products is increasing. As a result, the practitioner must have a strong understanding of the different types of blood products; the importance of ensuring the blood product is administered to the intended recipient, the process of initiating and monitoring blood products and assessing the patient for adverse reactions.

    Where this becomes pertinent for Canadians, is disclosed in the following article:

    Christian medical professionals are challenging Ontario's College of Physicians and Surgeons in court over a policy that requires doctors to provide or at least refer medical services, even when they clash with personal values.

    In a statement of claim filed in Ontario's Superior Court of Justice, two groups — the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada and the Canadian Federation of Catholic Physicians' Societies — and five individual doctors say the college's policy violates their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    At issue is the Ontario medical regulator's vote earlier this month to update its professional and human rights policy.

    The new Ontario policy requires doctors unwilling to provide certain care, such as prescriptions for contraception, to refer patients in good faith to a "non-objecting, available, and accessible" physician. The policy also says in medical emergencies, the doctors would be required to perform procedures themselves.

    Doctors who violate the policy could face disciplinary action, the college policy states.


    Would paramedic be an occupation be that one of Jehovah's Witnesses simply cannot accept, knowing fully well that you would be in a likely position to administer blood.

    I believe this was directly answered in one of the Watchtowers from back in the 80s or 90s, I think. I don't know the exact quote, but it could have been a question from readers - whether someone working in health care (doctor or nurse) could administer blood. The answer was 'yes'.

  • steve2

    Orphancrow you are correct. I cannot remember the article, but JWs who work in the medical health field can be guided by their consciences as to whether they administer blood to a patient or be involved in any preparatory work for transfusions (such as registered nurses, medics and paramedics).

    There is absolutely no Watchtower ban on JW health professionals preparing and/or administering medical treatment blood.

    I know of at least three Witnesses who are health care professionals who fully participate in this apsect of medical treatment.

  • adjusted knowledge
    adjusted knowledge

    I'm not a lawyer or paralegal. In business school I was required to take three law courses: Business Law, Civil Procedures, and Constitutional Law. All three were basically survey type courses, where we focused on case law. I do recall, not sure which course, of various cases that prohibit Health Care workers in the USA not to preform life saving procedures based on religious beliefs. I do recall also where a Catholic Pharmacist was fired for not dispensing contraceptives and the courts backed the employer.

    Growing up as a witness there was a RN in our congregation that was married to an Elder. She helped in the administration of blood at the hospital.

  • violias

    At one time jws nurses were advised ( told) not to administer blood and most did not. Sometimes jws nurses trade patients to avoid this issue. In the state of Texas as far as I am aware only Rn's or nurses supervised by Rn's can administer blood. It used to be quite and issue for jws nurses but there is new thinking . A CO who was in the hospital and under my care said it was a conscience matter . Many jws nurses work in areas where blood is not likely to be administered and today they use blood less than 20-30 yrs ago. it is not the first treatment for a low blood count but of course is used in ER and OR , ICU, NICU and other high risk areas. I did administer blood a few times but being a devout jws at the time chose to work in areas where blood would never be administered . It would not bother me now but at the time it did offend my conscience as a jws. Administering blood is a big job ( lots of paper work and time involved) so most nurses don't like to trade patients. You'd have to have your best friend working on the floor with you to get away with that very much. So as a jws you either decide to administer blood or not.

    btw, the religious freedom law would not cause a patient to die unless a jws nurse/ was the only nurse/person in the entire hospital. Your license says you must provide care and if you personally object to administering blood you MUST find another nurse to do it. Otherwise, You can and most likely would lose your license.

    I saw a lot of Catholic nurses who refused care for D/C patients-- as ABO was not allowed in that hospital and many docs did D/c's as disguised abortions. I often got to trade off and take those patients b/c I do not believe in abortion but I did not perform the abortion and taking care of the patient afterwards certainly did not violate my conscience but it did many a Catholic nurse.

    btw the title to your thread is RAG worthy.

  • Marvin Shilmer
    Marvin Shilmer
    There is absolutely no Watchtower ban on JW health professionals preparing and/or administering medical treatment blood.

    That's 100 percent correct with one exception. Watchtower's blood doctrine forbids JW healthcare providers from administering blood transfusions to JWs.

  • violias

    Yes, it was a bit of a sticky mess in the past but jws nurses have it easier now. I am retired but it was a big issue in my time.

    Yes it is clear about not administering blood to another jws.

Share this