On October 13, 2015, a Tennessee medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the widow of a man who was not provided necessary medical care because the Tennessee hospital where he was being treated incorrectly noted his religious affiliation as Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The man had a urinalysis performed at a local Tennessee hospital in 2014 that showed that he was suffering from kidney disease. Ten days later, he went to the defendant hospital where he was diagnosed as stage four kidney failure that required immediate medical intervention.
According to his widow’s Tennessee medical malpractice/wrongful death lawsuit, his hospital chart stated that he was a Jehovah’s Witness, which one of the defendant physicians interpreted as meaning that the patient refused that a port be implanted so that he could receive necessary medical intervention to treat his serious condition.
The widow’s lawsuit alleges that on October 28, 2014, while her husband lay in his hospital bed, one of the defendant physicians told her that it was shame that he could not provide medical treatment to her husband because of his religion, which was the first indication to the widow that the hospital was not providing her husband with possible life-saving medical treatment because of an erroneous medical record.
The widow corrected the defendant physician and immediately authorized that a port be implanted in her husband. Unfortunately, her husband died later that same night.
The widow’s Tennessee wrongful death medical malpractice lawsuit seeks unspecified compensatory damages.
Jehovah’s Witnesses Medical Treatment Myths/Beliefs
According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses website:
Myth: Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in medicine or medical treatment.
Fact: We seek the best possible medical care for ourselves and our families. When we have health problems, we go to doctors who have skill in providing medical and surgical care without blood. We appreciate advancements that have been made in the medical field. In fact, bloodless treatments developed to help Witness patients are now being used to benefit all in the community. In many countries, any patient can now choose to avoid blood-transfusion risks, such as blood-borne diseases, immune-system reactions, and human errors.
Myth: Many Witnesses, including children, die each year as a result of refusing blood transfusions.
Fact: This statement is totally unfounded. Surgeons regularly perform such complex procedures as heart operations, orthopedic surgery, and organ transplants without the use of blood transfusions. Patients, including children, who do not receive transfusions usually fare as well as or better than those who do accept transfusions. In any case, no one can say for certain that a patient will die because of refusing blood or will live because of accepting it.
Why don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses accept blood transfusions?
This is a religious issue rather than a medical one. Both the Old and New Testaments clearly command us to abstain from blood. (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:10; Deuteronomy 12:23; Acts 15:28, 29) Also, God views blood as representing life. (Leviticus 17:14) So we avoid taking blood not only in obedience to God but also out of respect for him as the Giver of life.
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