Print

Resources >> Browse Articles >> On the Job

Rate

Are Personal Beliefs Ruining Healthcare?

Are Personal Beliefs Ruining Healthcare?

John Rossheim | Monster Senior Contributing Writer

An EMT instructed to transport a woman to an abortion clinic declines, citing personal beliefs. A nurse ordered to administer a large dose of morphine to a terminal cancer patient in pain refuses, saying the medication could hasten death. A physician turns away a gay patient, apparently on the basis of his sexual orientation.

Are these scenarios examples of healthcare workers asserting their right of individual conscience, or are they unethical, perhaps illicit denials of patients’ rights to receive medically appropriate treatments?

This question is at the center of a simmering debate that is moving beyond pharmacists who refuse to dispense contraceptives to other hot-button issues, such as in vitro fertilization, physician-assisted suicide and stem-cell research, affecting a wide variety of specialties in healthcare. Although there’s no reliable statistical evidence that more US healthcare workers are refusing to treat on moral grounds, anecdotal evidence indicates the phenomenon is growing. A variety of bills and laws, mainly on the state level, either grant or deny healthcare workers the right to refuse treatment.

Healthcare Workers’ Conscience vs. Patients’ Rights

The disagreement is deeply entrenched.

“This is a conflict of the constitutionally based right of conscience and the patient’s right of convenience,” says Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations.

Others say healthcare workers who refuse to provide treatment are breaching their professional duty to put the patient first.

Present and future healthcare workers need to know that these legal, ethical and ideological battles threaten to alter professional relationships and change career arcs.

Employer-Employee Communication Makes a Difference

Partisans on both sides say it’s important for healthcare workers to inform their employers about what procedures they won’t perform — before they are asked to perform them. Some jurisdictions require such notification.

“A California law requires that pharmacists reveal to their employers which treatments they won’t provide,” says Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center.

Conversely, healthcare employers have a duty to inform job candidates if they won’t tolerate treatment refusals. “Companies need to lay out the terms of the job and the expectations when workers are hired,” says Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics.

Some assert that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forces employers to share the burden of reconciling workers’ beliefs with patients’ rights. “When an employee makes a request based on religious belief, the employer must attempt a reasonable accommodation but need not take on an undue hardship,” says Francis Manion, senior counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, which represents healthcare workers who have refused to treat.


Rate
  • Photo_user_blank_big

    donz

    almost 5 years ago

    24 comments

    Abortion Kills More Black Americans Than the Seven Leading Causes of Death Combined, Says CDC Data
    How about that bit of Data??? Do you still want to spit out comments without looking at the full picture and all data?? It just shows what kind of nurse you are...Nurses please take time to get up to date and constantly learn, learn and research, research and research more!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    donz

    almost 5 years ago

    24 comments

    This article -the way it started -is to me bias. When pts. refuse tx's i.e. Mormans, Muslims, and yes even Catholics have their rights/beliefs.
    "There is a difference between declining to aide w/ an abortion verses someones gender, race, or ethnicity. " Personal beliefs are many and varied and in AMERICA each individual has the right to express themselves and to adhere to their beliefs without bias hatred underhandedly to surpress personal beliefs!! So, with that said take into the account of each circumstance and as a PROFESSIONAL AMERICAN WORKER USE YOUR BRAINS AND DON'T JUST COMMENT LIKE A IGNORANT , NON-LOOKING AT ALL THE FACTS AND RAMAFACATIONS THAT GO ALONG WITH THIS ISSUE!!! IT IS NOT JUST FOR SUZY THE NURSE TO BE NICE AND SPIT OUT WHAT MAY SEEM RIGHT TO SAY...DOESN'T MAKE IT RIGHT!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    raymoss1

    almost 5 years ago

    220 comments

    Personal beliefs have no business in healthcare. When one goes into healthcare they know that they will be taking care of people with different backgrounds and beliefs. I say stay out of health care. Those who refused treatment, how would they feel if they where denied care beacuse of personal beliefs.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    mertens266

    almost 5 years ago

    6 comments

    This is hardly a false issue. The area of refusing treatment or family members advocating painful, useless treatments at the end of life regularly occur. I have seen patient initiated DNR orders ignored by family who had no legal standing in the form of a POA or guardianship. What is the point of a Living Will or other directive if it can be routinely ignored once the patient becomes incapacitated. Is your duty to the patient or the angry family? Doctors have to make these calls and on average the course of action is the one of least resistance. This is no different than organ donors who have their drivers license stamped but family refuses to allow such. The real world effect of all this is that it exposes such documents as Living Wills and drivers license organ donation consent as suspect and weak if not outright ineffectual and fraudulent. And healthcare is routinely complicit in ignoring these wishes patient's put in writing. How sad. How criminal.

  • John_001_max600_max50

    Nurse_John

    almost 5 years ago

    28266 comments

    My personal beliefs have never entered into my care of a patient. I take care of all my patients according to their wishes. I am a patient advocate for their rights and decisions. Not my own beliefs. I think all nurses should be like that.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Wife_Of_Nurse

    almost 5 years ago

    30 comments

    I agree with Simmply :-) If i wanted artificial insemination , why on earth would i force a dr to do it that didnt want to? Dont you need to go to a specialist that does that all the time, knows how to do it and etc? thats just plain silly to force a dr to do it, chances are, he dont know what hes doing anyways.... lol duh

    I dont think these are REAL problems, sounds like something someone made up for this story! What person needs a ambulance ride to a abortion clinic? if they are that bad off, for a ambulance, they need to be taken to the emergency room!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Wife_Of_Nurse

    almost 5 years ago

    30 comments

    This sounds like a nurse/dr bashing one! YIKES! Shame on the writer. IMO, as a patient, when hunting up a dr, we do the initial fact finding 1st meeting, and usually you can get the jist of things from there, if i have a pregnancy and they feel something is wrong, they may suggest terminating the baby, i think its against my peronal beliefs and if i feel he will not support me, find another dr.

    I am not a nurse, my husband is, he currently works at a nursing home, and i dont think they do anything there that is against his peronal beliefs, he is not goign to hunt up a job that would terminate pregnancys, or anything else against his personal belief. As a nurse, you can get the feel of what your dr/employee does, if you feel he is doing something you dont agree with..... theres many other jobs out there.

    Nursing is just like any other job out there, you dont like where you are at, hunt up a job somewhere else :-) If you arent happy in your workplace, chances are.... you are making it difficult for others to enjoy their job too

  • Grams_first_birthday_001_max50

    Rjamerson

    almost 5 years ago

    6 comments

    I am a student, just entering the healthcare scene, but I do agree with the fact that if you have personal beliefs that conflict with the facility you are employed with and the procedures they will or will not do, don't work there. When I finish my education, I will definitely do my research on the facility I plan to work for, before I apply.

  • Pensive_2_max50

    hanarasel18

    almost 5 years ago

    24 comments

    No matter what one's personal beliefs are, they have NO PLACE in the health care field. If you don't like what your facility is doing, then work elsewhere! However, to jeopardized a pt's health and life because of one's personal beliefs is simply unconscionable.

  • 019_max50

    simmplyperi

    almost 5 years ago

    10 comments

    Not providing artificial insemination to anyone does not cause harm. A couple should find a doctor that will do it rather than force one to do it who is against it for any reason. Not transporting a patient to an abortion clinic does not cause harm, either. If a termination is medically indicated to save the life of the mother, she should probably be in a hospital. There are many options in healthcare that are controversial based on one's personal beliefs, but I have not heard of anyone choosing not to do something that actually caused someone else harm. What about personal accountability? And what about finding a practitioner that agree with your views? That is the patient's responsibility. After all it is not just a list of patient's rights, but also of their responsibilities.

  • Gavin_grad_picture_max50

    MyNewLifeNow

    almost 5 years ago

    6 comments

    This article is written from a very biased angle to present extreme circumstances or NON-heatlh care situations to make it seem like those with strong beliefs are somehow horrible and unfair to their patients. I would contend that any doctor overdosing their patients with morphine to speed their death are playing God and are NOT delivering health care, they are delivering death and doing so deliberately. Further, abortion is NOT health care, it is a choice to let the unborn baby live or die. Abortion hurts women too - it is not like having a tumor removed and every woman knows it, whether they acknowledge it or not there can be huge healthcare issues for women who have abortions. To deny a healthcare worker the right not to participate in the willful killing of another human being is wrong. This article suggests or implies it. The article is very very bad medicine. It tries to appear neutral, but the scenes of "health care options that a nurse's beliefs could threatnen patients health" are false themselves and don't involve health of the patient.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    car6290

    almost 5 years ago

    4 comments

    I agree, bwweeks. I'm an LPN student, set to graduate in January, and it's been drilled into our heads at every turn that nursing care is patient-centered. Our beliefs & opinions should not figure into the equation at all. Does it bother me that at some point in my career I could be treating a murderer, rapist, or child molester? Yes....BUT this is the career I've chosen and I am to follow the physician's orders and perform my duties to the best of my ability, regardless of my personal feelings for a particular patient or procedure.

    As for healthcare providers denying care based on sexual orientation, that is just downright criminal. Being gay is not a choice, not anymore than being born with blue eyes, red hair or brown skin is a choice.

  • Untitled1_max50

    bwweeks5270

    almost 5 years ago

    42 comments

    It all comes down to patient's rights of self-determination. If a terminal cancer patient refuses treatment, I will present all the pros and cons of either course of action, but I can NEVER coerce the patient into doing whatever I think is "right". My personal opinions are not relevant, PERIOD! As a nurse, you need the flexibility to do whatever needs to be done so long as it aligns with the patient's wishes. Put yourself in the patient's place and imagine how you'd want to be treated. Respecting the patient's rights is ALWAYS appropriate. Don't let your own opinions into the mix.

  • Hand_in_hand_max50

    MaggieS

    almost 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Personal beliefs have always affected workplce decisions in any field. The ethical stance of workers impacts, not just healthcare but also buisness decisions. I would recommend all healthcare workers to declare any "life-threatening" conditions that they would not be prepared to take part in - ie assist in OR during abortion. However, I do not see that anyone can refuse to look after the atient AFTER the procedure is completed. Nor do I believe that care should be denied to a gay person - that is their choice of lifestyle - I do not help them in their choice - and actually if I would seek to change their choices, that will only happen by respectful friedship and healthy debate - NOT by " holier-then-thou" condemnation.
    Are personal beliefs ruining helathcare ? I say "no". . . . If we take personal beliefs out of healthcare, then we won't have many healthcare workers, because many of them work the
    anti-social hours they do, BECAUSE OF PERSONAL BELIEFS - a caling to care / desire to help. If they choose to put a limit on their caring, then they must manage their career choices to reflect their beliefs. eg a Dr who does not perform abortion can briefly explain why no service is provided and then refer the patient to another provider. In this way the "rights" of both parties are respected.

    I am a nurse and midwife of 30 years experience in both hospital and community practice.

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.