Blood Feuds: Conflicts Between Jehovah’s Witness Patients Refusing Blood Transfusion and Doctors.
A 45 year old male is admitted into the Emergency room after a traumatic head injury in a near-fatal car collision. He is a Jehovah’s Witness and his wife is adamant that he would not want any procedure that would require blood transfusions as it goes against his beliefs. His Physician, Dr Parker, claims that he is incompetent and proceeds to treat the man for his injuries.
The case study at hand presents many problems for the moral philosopher and also raises pertinent legal questions that resonate broadly under the following areas:capacity to consent,patient autonomy and confidentiality. In this article, I will present the legal and ethical implications, discounting some of the finer linguistic nuances, which will be beyond the scope of this essay. Therefore,the terms ‘competence’ and ‘capacity’ will be used synonymously throughout.