Religious Hospitals May Open Themselves to Malpractice Suits


With the changes in healthcare happening across the country, there is increasing concern over religious healthcare corporations that are absorbing other secular and independent hospitals. With the absorption of these once-secular institutions is the imposition of religious restrictions that are often at odds with standard medical procedure. The interests of religious theology can sometimes trump medical procedures that can lead to risking the health and the lives of patients.

In one recent incident, a woman who was traveling with her husband began having abdominal pain. The couple went to the nearest hospital where she was diagnosed with a ectopic pregnancy that was potentially fatal.

The doctors recommended immediate surgery to remove the woman’s fallopian tube. The procedure would cut in half the couple’s chances of conceiving a child. Doctors did not tell the couple that Methotrexate could have solved the issue without the need for surgery.

Thankfully, the woman was able to find a nearby secular hospital that would treat her with the drug rather than opting for the fertility reducing surgery. The hospital where she was diagnosed was a Catholic hospital that was bound by directives that forbids any procedure which constitutes an abortion. The injection of the drug would have caused the ectopic pregnancy to abort.

In a similar case in 2010, a Nicaraguan woman who was pregnant and was diagnosed with metastatic cancer was denied treatment because chemotherapy could harm her fetus. In spite of a patient’s personal beliefs or desires, because Catholic belief views any product from the point of conception onward to be a human being, doctors are forbidden from removing the fetus even if the life of the mother is in danger or there is little or even no chance of the fetus becoming a viable person outside of the womb.

This is completely opposite of more secular medical ethics that are primarily concerned with the welfare of patients as well as their autonomy. Physicians are expected to honor their directive of not only doing no harm, but also to keep their skills and knowledge base current. It is this kind of attention to medical advancements that helps to insure the best possible outcomes for the health of patients. When these norms are ignored, violations that constitute medical malpractice are more likely to occur.

When the issue of religious beliefs overrides science, common sense and what the patient wants, everyone is more at risk. Religious organizations that interfere in healthcare decisions impose their desires not only on the health of women but also to other patients that are facing life altering decisions.

When doctors are forced to adhere to such strict mandates that may or may not hold with their own beliefs, it opens the door even wider to the possibility of medical malpractice. Every patient has the right to expect a standard of care no matter what the religious beliefs of the doctors or the organizations where they work are.

If you or a loved one believes they have suffered as a result of medical malpractice or medical negligence, contact the law offices of Bottar Law, PLLC today. We will take the time to carefully evaluate your claim. One of our attorneys can then begin the process of getting you and your loved ones the compensation you deserve. Call us today for a free consultation and legal analysis.

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