CHICAGO, April 12 (UPI) — About one-fifth of U.S. doctors practicing in religiously-affiliated hospitals say they’ve had conflicts over hospitals’ end-of-life and contraception policies.
“Religious hospitals represent nearly 20 percent of our health care system,” study author Dr. Debra Stulberg of the University of Chicago said in a statement. “This study is the first to systematically ask physicians whether religious hospital policies conflict with their judgment. We found that for a significant number of physicians, they do.”
Ninety-six percent of primary care physicians — a representative sample of U.S. family physicians, general internists and general practitioners in 2007 — say physicians should adhere to hospital policy, Stulberg said.
Eighty-five percent of physicians thought a doctor facing conflict with religious policies should refer the patient to another hospital, while 10 percent said a doctor should recommend an alternate treatment not prohibited by the religious hospital.
“Primary care physicians routinely see patients facing reproductive health or end-of-life decisions that may be restricted in religious healthcare institutions, so we were not surprised to learn that nearly one in five have worked in a religious setting had a conflict with their hospital,” Stulberg said.
“We found that the physicians who work in religious hospitals and practices are a diverse group, from a wide range of religious and personal backgrounds, so hospitals sponsored by a specific religious denomination have providers who may not share their beliefs.”
The findings are published online ahead of print in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.