Should doctors tell JW patients that there is disagreement about Watchtower's blood policy.

by Lee Elder 46 Replies latest watchtower medical

  • Lee Elder
    Lee Elder

    This has been a controversial issue among doctors and medical ethicists. I think it basically comes down to the fact that physicians have a responsibility to establish the presence of informed consent. Is it really possible for a person to give informed consent if they are not accurately informed?

    The Watchtower has made some improvements in this area, but still have a long ways to go in my opinion. A good place to start would be by publishing accurate statistics on the effect of anemia in JW populations, and acknowledging the well known limitations of "no blood" alternatives. Particularly in cases of child birth complications, blood disorders like leukemia, and trauma.

    Here is what one prominent medical ethicist has suggested for fellow physicians. What do you think? Does it go far enough or too far?

    BMJ link

  • adjusted knowledge
    adjusted knowledge
    I'm in nursing school, and anytime we would cover culture the JW blood issue would be cover. We had to even role play this scenario. The material in our textbook is quite vague and mostly focuses on respecting the decision of the patient. I'm curious how much in depth knowledge a typical American surgeon would have on JW blood doctrine.
  • Lee Elder
    Lee Elder
    Surprisingly little I'm afraid. The U.S. is far too accommodating of irrational religious based views.
  • Fisherman

    Should doctors tell....

    Why not?

    Doctor: "Hello, my name is doctor Itz Myduty Tokeepyoualive." " I was told you are JW and do not want blood medicine?"

    Patient: "Yes, I am JW and I do not want a blood transfusion."

    Doctor: "I am not God but I do know this, you are bleeding to death and you will die without one."

    Patient: "If you are not God, then how do you know I will die without one?"

    Doctor:" I know from experience that people have been known to die from old age, drowning, falling and landing on their heads, when they eat poison, and a lot of other causes too, like in your case, bleeding." ". By the way, are you of the anointed because if you are, when you die you are going directly to heaven, you know??

    Patient: "No, I am OS."

    Doctor: "How do you know?"

    Patient: "A recent WT article explains that those of the anointed have clear and convincing evidence from God- so they know."

    Doctor: "Do you have clear and convincing evidence from God that HE does not want YOU to get a blood transfusion?"

    Patient: unconscious....expires.

  • slimboyfat

    Not sure about this one. JWs already know there is a disagreement about blood. It's no secret. The Watchtower says don't take blood and just about everyone else in the world doesn't have a problem with it. Should doctors tell JWs that in addition there are some JWs who disagree with the Watchtower's position? I don't know. It's treating them a bit infantile. On one level it's a statement of the obvious is it not? On another level it's promoting the view of an undefined renegade minority on a vulnerable person in a difficult position. I would agree that taking medical advice from the Watchtower is a pretty poor life choice, but it's their choice to make. Is it really ethical to attempt to deprogramme someone at the eleventh hour?

    I guess it depends exactly what information you have in mind. If it's simply to say, you know, maybe this hasn't been pointed out to you, but the Watchtower now allows all these fractions and many JWs take them no problem, then of course that's completely appropriate. But to start arguing with a patient about the meaning of Bible verses and past flip flops on organ transplants is going too far. If they want to ask questions then answer them, but don't force stuff on them whether they ask for it or not.

  • Mephis

    Have seen that correspondence before. Still not sure what I think. Slimboyfat covers several of the things which it makes me consider.

    I have no problem with medical staff trying to find ways round the issue with treatments. And I really have no problem with even providing information to patients to present a different opinion. Just with this issue, I'm not sure how effective it will be to hand out something which the JW will label apostate, and trigger the local JW blood issue fire brigade to increased efforts.

    This is built up as modern-day martyrdom for JWs so I'd think finding ways to ensure privacy for the patient/doctor discussion on options may be more effective to find out if there is flexibility for that individual beyond what Brooklyn permits. An honest chat on what blood is and whether they knew seems fine, but ultimately it's always going to be in the patient's hands without a court order.

  • Pubsinger
    I would LOVE a doctor to ask a JW to explain how they can accept blood fractions as a matter of conscience when they can only be obtained by someone breaking God's law and donating blood.
  • slimboyfat
    Memphis makes a great point. Many JWs take blood if they can be assured no one will find out. (A gastrointestinal surgeon I knew 15 years ago told me this himself) A lot of it is social pressure with JWs. The biggest single thing any doctor could do to convince a JW to take blood is to promise complete confidentiality and discretion.
  • possum
    I think many witness parents are secretly relieved in some Australian states doctors will be very proactive and get a court order for minor children. As a nurse especially working in maternity its extremely stressful for the nursing staff when witness mothers just don't comprehend of just how much danger they have sometimes put themselves and their babies in. While I agree that persons should have a right to refuse medical treatment and often do for many reasons. I don't think a publishing company is suitable people to be dispensing life/death medical advice. Especially with all their flip/flops. If?? the WT organisations is as clean and loving as they so self righteously always trumpet. Why don't they donate blood? It takes large quantities of blood to make fractions that they TAKE from wicked worldly people to keep themselves alive!!
  • ThomasCovenant

    Slimboyfat said,

    '' It's treating them a bit infantile.''

    Most Witnesses, including myself at the time, are when it comes to the blood doctrine.

    Mummy and Daddy said I mustn't, so I mustn't.

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