Thursday, May 7, 2009
Respect Or Tolerance?
Please forgive me if this turns out to be a little rude or insensitive....but I just worked 30 hours of trauma and am a little beat.
Thanks to the swine flu, a nice 13 year old boy was home during the day instead of at school. He was riding his scooter and was hit by a car at about 35 mph. He was hurt pretty bad...his skull was cracked open leaving a track open to the brain. There was a lot of bleeding as the skull is very vascular. We consulted the neurosurgery team and face team immediately to try to get him to surgery asap to give him the best chance possible.
When his mom arrived, she was appropriately distraught. I explained to her the injuries and the need for emergent surgery. Before I could finish the word surgery, she had cut me off to say loud and boldly "I am a Jehovas Witness and I want to sign right now that he can have NO blood." I told her I 'respected' her beliefs, but there was a good chance that her son was going to need blood or blood products to live. It didn't phase her, and she was pulling out her pen. I then told her that we would do our best not to use blood, but in the state we live in parents cannot deny kids the right to blood transfusions in emergent situations. So....she then wrote it out herself on a piece of paper and put it in the chart.
We are taught ethics in med school....and the blood issue with Jehovas Witnessess is very familiar. It usually isn't a problem unless its with children. I am not a total ass. When I am with my muslim friends...I am sure to order pizza without pork, even thought they are drinking beer. When I am with my Jewish friends...we go somewhere kosher, and I even bring coupons. One of my dearest patients in the past was a Jehovas Witness....and I made sure he got through his entire complicated hospital course without blood.
But this night it just hit me the wrong way. I wasn't rude to her. I didn't tell her we all sin in our different religions so I didn't understand why she wouldn't let this "sin" go so her child could live. I just muttered the same ole "I respect your....." But I don't think its respect any more. Its tolerance. We tolerate things that are different than we believe...and in the end just try to do our job. That night it was to keep HER child alive.
Posted by SerenityNow at 8:35 AM