Case study: Healing and Autonomy

Answer the following questions about a patient\’s spiritual needs in light of the Christian worldview. In 200-250 words, respond to the following: Should the physician allow Mike to continue making decisions that seem to him to be irrational and harmful to James, or would that mean a disrespect of a patient\’s autonomy? Explain your rationale. In 400-500 words, respond to the following: How ought the Christian think about sickness and health? How should a Christian think about medical intervention? What should Mike as a Christian do? How should he reason about trusting God and treating James in relation to what is truly honoring the principles of beneficence and nonmaleficence in James\’s care? In 200-250 words, respond to the following: How would a spiritual needs assessment help the physician assist Mike determine appropriate interventions for James and for his family or others involved in his care?


Question #1

As presented in the case study, Mike and Joanne understand that their son is suffering from kidney failure, a complication of untreated. However, they argue that religious intervention would benefit rather than heeding physician`s directives. They make decisions for James, who is underage and legally incompetent to make his own decisions. Sadly, their decision delayed the proposed intervention to relieve James` suffering as their prayers were ineffective. His kidneys deteriorated that he required a series of dialysis and a kidney transplant within the year. Otherwise, he may die.

The complexity of this case requires intervention by healthcare providers. Notably, providers are mandated to educate and enlighten patients concerning their choices. They are required to provide information regarding the benefits and risks of their intervention (Kahissay et al., 2020). Furthermore, they should give the patients alternatives that best suit their concerns. However, they are obliged to respect decisions made by their patients even if they conspire with their wish, unless in extreme cases (Evans, n.d.). Therefore, the physician is legally obliged to intervene in this case. The physician should advise Joanne and Mike against choosing prayers over dialysis and desist from their decision to improve James` outcome.

Furthermore, the physician should enlighten the parents about the importance of kidney transplants. These decisions should focus on James` preferences and interests amidst suffering and pain. Both dialysis and kidney transplant aim to improve patient outcomes while preventing the worsening of his symptoms. Furthermore, hypertension and fluid overload will be corrected through these interventions. Therefore, the doctor`s decisions are likely not to contradict James` autonomy but to help in improving his clinical outcome.

Question #2.

Illness and health are viewed divergently according to Christians. For instance, sickness is viewed as punishment from God. They believe that after the fall of the man following eating the fruits from the forbidden tree, the man was subjected to punishment. Sickness too is considered among the punishment (Kahissay et al., 2020). Furthermore, others believe that human sins can bring illness. As a result, their faith and trust in God are tested in the course of ailments. However, they still believe that God provides life. This argument is supported by the biblical account of creation when God breathed life into man. Christians also pray to God to intercede for their health during sickness and provide life without sickness.

Biblically, God used His prophets and faithful followers to heal various sicknesses in people who had faith. Jesus, too, performed healing miracles for various ailments (Kørup et al., 2020). Therefore, Christianity can impact personal judgment during sickness. Individuals may disregard medical intervention and advice while opting to pray and await God`s healing. This delay can cause worsening patient symptoms leading to premature death. For instance, doctrines such as Jehovah Witness do not acknowledge some medical practices such as blood transfusion. They argue that transfusion is equivalent to transferring life to another individual while disregarding the works of God; this is unacceptable. Their postulations are not accepted globally.

Likewise, Joanne and Mike are portrayed as true believers. They opted for prayers despite the medical advice provided. James` condition worsened when he required a kidney transplant. Interestingly, neither of them was compatible to donate their kidneys, but Samuel, the twin brother. The decision to allow for Samuel`s decision remains unprecedented. However, like other Christians, Mike should understand that God heals sickness while medical experts treat disease. Therefore, they should pray to God for intercession while allowing the medical experts to offer their expertise to treat James, including performing a kidney transplant. Medical experts, o the other hand, should use their professional skills and knowledge based on the clinical evidence to offer the best possible care (Kørup et al., 2020). Furthermore, Mike and Joanne should understand that every human has a special purpose to fulfill on earth. As a result, they should trust the medical experts to provide care while believing in God to cure their son. Notably, Christian beliefs must never prevent one from benefiting from medical care. However, both medical care and prayers can be integrated.

This case provides an insight into the principle of beneficence. Mike ad Joanne is acting in the best interest of their sons. Nevertheless, they may not be acquainted with knowledge about the best possible options. As a result, they require the doctor to enlighten them about possible treatment. Besides, the doctor also provides options that are of best interest. The dialysis aimed to improve kidney functioning while eliminating toxic substances and balancing electrolytes (Kørup et al., 2020). Kidney transplant surgery offers numerous benefits that will improve James` outcome. Nonmaleficence is another ethical principle in this case. Nonmaleficence proposes that individuals should not harm others (Oben, 2020). The doctor proposes the surgery that will improve James ‘condition. Continuous postponement of the surgery will likely worsen clinical outcomes leading to untimely premature death.

Question #3

Patients are from different backgrounds guided by various spiritual concerns. Their understanding of their Christian values greatly determines their decisions (Oben, 2020). Furthermore, the understanding of various benefits attributed to an intervention. Therefore, physicians should understand the spiritual concerns of their patients while guiding them about the appropriate options of intervention. Furthermore, clinicians should educate their patients concerning their choices without harsh criticism of their faith. This will help in mutual understanding that will benefit the patient (Varkey, 2021). Likewise, Joanne and Mike require education from the doctor regarding the treatment options. Making correct decisions will positively impact the patient outcome and prevent early death.

Spiritual leaders, too, have a role to play in the enlightening congregation. They should educate them about the power of God in healing while emphasizing the importance of healthcare providers in treating diseases (Varkey, 2021). This will help encourage patients to seek medical care while believing in the power of God. For example, Mike ad Joanne opted to seek God`s intervention through prayers. They believed that their son would be healed as it happened to one of the congregants who had suffered a stroke. However, they did not receive the miracle, consequently leading to deterioration in James ‘condition. In this case, the spiritual leader failed to offer these parents concrete advice to seek medical care while believing in miracles from God. Failure to seek early medical care may lead to an untimely death due to worsening kidney failure. Finally, a kidney transplant is the only feasible option to relieve James from his suffering. Therefore, the doctor should insist on the importance of such a procedure for optimum care that improves the quality of care and prevents untimely death.



Evans, K. A. (n.d.). Intervention, Ethical Decision-Making, and Spiritual Care. Grand Canyon University. http://file:///D://5Intervention__Ethical_Decision-Making__and_Spiritual_Care

Kahissay, M. H., Fenta, T. G., & Boon, H. (2020). Religion, spirits, human agents and healing: A conceptual understanding from a sociocultural study of Tehuledere community, northeastern Ethiopia. Journal of Religion and Health59(2), 946–960.

Kørup, A. K., Søndergaard, J., Christensen, R. D., Nielsen, C. T., Lucchetti, G., Ramakrishnan, P., Baumann, K., Lee, E., Frick, E., Büssing, A., Alyousefi, N. A., Karimah, A., Schouten, E., Schulze, A., Wermuth, I., & Hvidt, N. C. (2020). Religious values in clinical practice are here to stay. Journal of Religion and Health59(1), 188–194.

Oben, P. (2020). Understanding the patient experience: A conceptual framework. Journal of Patient Experience7(6), 906–910.

Varkey, B. (2021). Principles of clinical ethics and their application to practice. Medical Principles and Practice: International Journal of the Kuwait University, Health Science Centre30(1), 17–28.

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