Academic Master

Health Care

Healing and Autonomy (Case Study)


The case study at hand evaluates the decisions made by Mike and Joanne from the perspective of medical intervention to their son James. Mike’s decisions in delaying James’s treatment are analyzed in the Christian faith’s context. Furthermore, the future actions taken by the couples are examined in terms of Christian faith and beliefs (Hamlin, 2009). Besides, issues related to rationality are also emphasized, Christian vision concerning the autonomy of the patient, kidney transplant, and right of denying treatment, among others (Ferngen, 2009).

Under the Christian narrative and Christian vision, what sorts of issues are most pressing in this case study?

The most pressing issue which James and Joanne are facing is believing in spiritual healing and health from God. According to the Christian view of healing, the ultimate healing comes from the will of God. Christians have several beliefs in their journey of faith, such as prayer, fasting, anointing of oil, and healing. They believe that God blesses the process of the anointing of oils which assists in the healing process when placed on the believers. As seen in the case study, Mike and Joanne decide to prolong James’s dialysis by placing their faith in the healing power of God. Witnessing one of their friends receive Christian healing from a stroke is one of the reasons why the couple decides to put their trust in healing from God. The healing gave James and Joanne hope that their son would soon get well by throwing their faith and trust in God. However, the healing service attended by the parents did not act immediately to heal their son, and instead, James’s condition became worse than before.

Should the physician allow Mike to continue making decisions that seem to him to be irrational and harmful to James?

The Physician needs to advise James that the decisions He is making are irrational and harmful to the son. The physician is much aware of James’ complications and knows that the child will require a kidney transplant within a period of one year or less. Failure to do that, the nephrologists know the consequences that may befall James. Therefore, given the expertise and wealth of experience in the field, the nephrologist needs to take further action to save the life of James. Although God is the one who heals, what the couples failed to understand is the phrase that “God helps one who has helped himself.” The phrase implies that God heals one who has sought medical intervention. As a result, the physician needs to inform the couples that they need to seek medical assistance for their child and then place the rest of the trust in God for healing.

According to Hastie & Dawes (2010), there are a number of factors that limits a person’s ability to make rational decisions. First, instead of performing an analysis of all available alternatives, human beings tend to evaluate a limited number of options at a time, and this is seen by James and Joanne when they decide to try God’s healing first. Second, instead of doing simultaneous analysis of options, people will opt for sequential analysis, which is dangerous. In the process of performing sequential analysis, human beings will select the option which they perceive is going to provide a satisfactory outcome. According to James’s parents, it is spiritual healing that brings satisfactory results to them. That is why they first forego medical dialysis to spiritual intervention. Third, choice evaluation is significantly influenced by previous experiences. In this case, the spiritual healing of the patient suffering from stroke influences the parents to forego clinical treatment for spiritual healing. Fourth, the patients and their relatives often perceive the information evaluating clinical practices and results as imprecise and uncertain. For this reason, the parents of the kid do not want to rely on clinical treatment as their first option.

The patients and their relatives often experience challenges because, most of the time, their choices are not based on the scientific concepts of rationality. However, the case of physicians is different case because they are educated people and make their choices based on scientific facts. The physician is able to utilize the rational-choice model in analysis and making decisions. As a consequence, the physician in this case study should apply the rational-choice model in analyzing the harmful effects associated with Mike’s decision and advise him to change for the better.

According to the Christian narrative and the discussion of the issues of treatment refusal, patient autonomy, and organ donation in the topic readings, how might one analyze this case?

Presently, religion is viewed as a crucial aspect of human life. It is related to the capacity of human beings for self-existence in everyday life because it gives life its meaning as well as the fulfillment of human desires. Consequently, if religion is to entail day to day lived experience of human beings, then Christianity will also get involved in science and medicine. The application of the concept is most relevant in bioethics, where science and medicine are applied in the manipulation of various biological processes. This controversial issue has been challenging to the field of religion regarding the view on value and meaning. Patient autonomy is a branch of medicine involving information of informed decisions made by a competent individual. In our case, the informed decisions are made by Mike on behalf of James, his child. The discipline offers consent to specific decisions made by the patient, which brings the focus of medicine to the sick person instead of pathology. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for physicians to go against the principles of autonomy (Ladin, 2016).

In the case study, we see Mike refusing dialysis and opting to go for spiritual healing. However, according to autonomy, the nephrologist should give information to the patient on the dangers associated with the refusal. The physician accords respect to the autonomy of James because they are not forced to choose spiritual healing, bearing in mind that there are risks associated with the choice. As a result, on the basis of the Christian narrative concerning the autonomy of the patient, treatment refusal, and organ transplantation, a choice is available and valuable. Therefore, human beings have the freedom to make their own decisions. However, in case the decisions they make are not viable, they should be prepared to meet the repercussions. People have the right to freely make their own choices because God created us and gave us the capability of making free decisions, and thus a doctor has no power to deny the patient the rights.

According to the topic readings and lecture, how ought Christians to think about sicknesses and health? What should Mike, as a Christian, do? How should he reason about trusting God and treating James?

There is a difference between how Christians view diseases and health and the view of physicians regarding the same. The family of Mike and Joanne is staunch on matters to do with Christianity and religion. Therefore, we can easily conclude that they view sickness from the perspective of Christianity. Different denominations compose the Christian faith, and thus every single denomination has a unique view on matters relating to health and sickness. According to some Christians diseases arise as a result of God’s temptations while for others, it is a punishment for the sins committed before. Mike’s family views sickness as God’s test of faith. Contrary, there are groups of Christians the belief that doctors are sent by God to help in the elimination of sicknesses on earth. According to such Christians, diseases should be treated because they interfere with the normal functioning of the body.

Although it is good for Mike to remain vigilant in his faith, he should allow his son to undergo dialysis because the medical intervention services offered by the doctors help in quick healing. He should allow the doctors to give their best in terms of dialysis and only pray for God’s miracle to happen through the medical treatment offered by the doctors. He should understand the famous Algernon Sidney’s quote that “God helps those who help themselves.” Therefore, by praying and allowing doctors to treat his son, God will be able to intervene and heal his son. The best reasoning that Mike could ever engage is only by trusting in God and then giving the doctors freedom to do their best in terms of dialysis as it is good for the proper healing of James.


In conclusion, although Christians should remain committed to their religion, they should not be blind in their faith in God. They should understand that God works miracles through fellow human beings. Mike and his family are staunch followers of God, which is good, but they are missing an important aspect when it comes to matters concerning sickness and health. They have failed to understand that God helps those who have helped themselves. For this matter, Mike needs to allow his son to undergo medical dialysis and remain unshaken in praying for God’s healing miracles.



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