Navigating spirituality in medical situations – what doctors and patients need to know

Michael H Cohen was quoted in A Sacred Space: Navigating Religion and Spirituality in Medical Situations, in The New Physician, for comments on spirituality in medicine and health care. The Articlesacredspacearticle, by Joanna Haugen, describes the “moral compass” doctors encounter when “the course of medical care that makes the most sense to them goes against a patient’s spiritual beliefs,” and offers ways to help “both the doctor and patient to navigate these potentially different views on religion and medicine.”

Michael is quoted as saying:

“‘When we fall ill, we’re vulnerable,’ says Michael H. Cohen, president of Michal H. Cohen Law Group and a health care attorney in Los Angeles. ‘It can be a spiritual crisis as well as an emotional and medical crisis, so I think these two categories–medical and spiritual, are overlapping.'”

The article continues by talking about physician’s obligation to “be honest with their patients by presenting a comprehensive picture of what the problems and potential solutions may be to any given medical condition…. There needs to be a shift away from the value of medical paternalism, where the doctor knows best, toward a situation of shared decision-making where the value of patient autonomy is much more emphasized.”

“‘This allows for a model of greater patient participation, where both can work together to find the best outcome,’ Cohen says. When it comes time to talk about medical problems, avoid rushing conversations…'”

“‘There is a legal right to care for your own body and not to have medical procedures forced upon you,’ Cohen says. One of the key components of patient autonomy is informed consent…'”

The quotes follow themes Michael articulates in Healing at the Borderland of Medicine and Religion. These themes are relevant to medical doctors as well as healers, psychologists, social workers, and other clinical staff.

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