SSSFELICIANO’S MAR [15-08]: Spiritual Support: What We Often Miss In Patient Management

Indexing Title: SSSFELICIANO’S MAR [15-08]
MAR Title: Spiritual Support: What We Often Miss In Patient Management
Date of Medical Observation: September 2015
Tag: In managing patients, spiritual support plays a big role
Category: Professional/Ethical – Reinforcement


It was my first duty in another institution and was really nervous about it. I received the endorsements early that day. I was assigned to look after 6 patients and since it was an intensive care unit, the patients were relatively more critical than those in the wards. I reviewed each case and familiarized myself with the patients. The day went through well, until came evening, when a case of a 60-year-old male who underwent hepatectomy for hepatocellular carcinoma started to be unresponsive to our management. The patient was on triple inotropes but my BP never went up. He was scheduled for dialysis but we can’t since he was hemodynamically unstable. I updated our service consultant, our chief fellow and the primary service. I also initiated appraising the relatives of the patient’s condition, that anytime, sooner than expected, he would go. I was then touched by the patient’s daughter when she held me thanking me for taking care of his father. She then expressed that she just have one request before her dad leaves. “Can we call the priest doctor and pray for our Dad?” We immediately called the chaplain of the hospital and in less than an hour, we all gathered with the priest and prayed for the patient. True enough, the patient did not let my duty pass, for on midnight of that day, he expired. The relatives calmly accepted and were even thankful of the care we rendered. They were happy that we get to pray for him before he left.

Insight: (Physical, Psychosocial, Professional/Ethical)  (Discovery, Stimulus, Reinforcement)

“To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always”, says one of my friend, way back before we went into med school. I could still remember him telling me that he would want me to be his doctor when I become one, because he wanted to be taken cared of with compassion. As I reflect, have I been a compassionate doctor? Have I touched the lives of my patients? Have I made a difference in how the society sees the doctor as a profit-based profession?

It has been four years since I swear the Hippocratic Oath, but even before that, we have been caring for the sick. However, it has been in these four years of residency where I slowly, step-by-step, learned how to properly care for our patients, how to manage them and deal with them, not only with their disease, but their personal issues as well. I thought I have learned enough, not until I was exposed to this scenario. I thought that rotating in an intensive care unit would just teach me more than the basic, theoretically. Little did I know, that it was more than the books and more than the guidelines.

When was the last time I called the priest to anoint the sick? When was the last time that I called the relatives to gather and give hope by praying for their loved one? When was the last time did a relative thanked me for lightening their burden through prayer? Was there even a last time that I experienced these? I could not say no, I could not say yes neither, because, honestly, I don’t remember. However, it is not yet too late to start again. It is not too late to encourage our colleagues that a holistic physician, is not only one who is compassionate and empathizing. A holistic physician is never whole without the spiritual aspect of healing. Prayer not only strengthens the patient, but the weakened soul. It gives light not only to the sick, but the strong as well, who is slowly, losing that fire of hope. Hence, let this be a reminder to us physicians to cure sometimes, to relieve often, and to comfort always, thru prayer. 

ROJoson’s Notes (17jan20):

Physicians should always include spiritual care in their medical care, particularly if the patient has a religion.

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