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Challenging Religious Restrictions

Fall 2004

Compassion in Dying, the National Women's Law Center and forty-nine healthcare and consumer organizations have joined forces to protect patient rights. In a letter to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations the groups asked JCAHO to adopt a policy that requires religiously sponsored hospitals to notify patients of restricted end-of-life care services.

Patients and their advocates need to ask if a faith-based hospital will honor: refusal of artificial nutrition and hydration, removal of life support, do-not-resuscitate order, and surrogate decision-makers for Alzheimer's patients. Often faith-based hospitals also require nonsectarian hospitals affiliated with them to abide by religious restrictions. Patients are often unaware of these limitations and consent to admission or transfer before discovering disparities in end-of-life decision-making. Compassion supports the following changes in healthcare provider accountability:

  • Hospitals must provide patients and prospective patients with written policies concerning religious or ethical restrictions prior to admission.

  • Policies and patient notices must include a statement of the medical condition and the treatment affected by religious restriction.

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  • These policies must be prominently posted in patient, family and staff education, and marketing materials.

As of this writing, a JCAHO advisory committee is considering this proposal. Compassion In Dying, National Women's Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, Catholics for Free Choice, NAACP, NARAL and other prominent organizations support this significant development.



  
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This article was provided by Compassion in Dying. It is a part of the publication Connections.
 
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