Compassion and Choices (a group I support) re-tweeted this tweet today (from their executive director):
BCoombsLee Good reason to ask ur doc to reveal religious views. http://smtp01.kaiserhealthnews.org/t/13476/421929/13051/0/
Here's the basic point of the article linked to:
"A doctor's own religious practice can become quite relevant to patient care, especially when end-of-life issues come into play. A new study finds that doctors who are not religious are more likely to take steps to help end a very sick patient's life, and to discuss these kinds of decisions, than doctors who are very religious. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, surveyed more than 8,500 doctors in the United Kingdom across a wide range of specialties such as neurology, palliative care, and general practice" (Landau, 8/26)
But does this mean that I need to inquire about my doctor's religious beliefs?
I've never bothered to ask my primary care physician about this topic but I have talked with my endocrinologist. The difference between my interactions with these two professionals is relational. Because I had a pheochromocytoma several years back I've spent a lot of time with my endocrinologist. We've had many more opportunities to talk and know each other.
In the end, it isn't the religion or the politics of a physician that matters to me (the best primary care physician I ever had was a conservative Republican who worked for Vice-President Dan Quayle before leaving politics for medicine). What I'm concerned with are values and understandings of medical ethics. Religion may or may not inform that understanding. Isn't that the conversation we should be having with our doctors?