Sunday, December 03, 2006

Doctors aren't chaplains

Op-ed piece from Richard P. Sloan director of the behavioral medical program at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, is the author of "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine"

Some prominent physicians are calling for the wall of separation between religion and medicine to be torn down. They declare that the future of medicine is prayer and Prozac, and they recommend that doctors take a "spiritual history" during a patient's initial visit and annually thereafter. Walter Larimore, an award-winning physician, for instance, has declared that excluding God from a consultation should be grounds for malpractice.

Of course, religion is not utterly irrelevant to patients. If it were, hospitals would not have chaplains and chapels. But before organized medicine decides that religion has any value in physical healing, several things ought to be considered. First, the scientific evidence supposedly linking religious practices with better health is shockingly weak — so bad, in fact, that if we were discussing drugs, the Food and Drug Administration would have to find them unsafe and ineffective. Most research studies that claim to show how religious involvement is associated with better health fail to rule out other factors that might account for the relationship.

Good thing this is just an op-ed piece. I don't think he really understands faith and those that practice their faith-most especially through prayer.

I believe this family would beg to differ. "Her parents say that Nikki – who they describe as “funny, witty, and vibrant” – is a testament to modern medicine and the power of prayer."

Doctors at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong ran tests that showed Nikki was much sicker than she appeared. She was diagnosed with invasive strep, which led to a rare, life-threatening blood disorder called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

“She was in the PICU for three months, and she was on the brink of death almost every day,” Linda Snacki says. “They put her in an induced coma for several months to help her breathe, and I promised her before she fell asleep that I wouldn’t leave her side. For three months, I never went outside to take a breath of air. We just prayed. We never gave up hope.”

"Veil Tip" to "disinterested party".

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