Religion in Society

Survey: Nonreligious Doctors More Likely to Hasten Death

| by Baptist Press

WASHINGTON -- A survey of British physicians shows those who are atheistic or agnostic are nearly two times as likely as religious doctors to make decisions that will hasten the deaths of their terminally ill patients.

The poll of more than 3,700 English doctors showed those who considered themselves as "extremely" or "very nonreligious" were almost twice as likely to have taken actions such as continuous deep sedation, which can speed up a patient's demise, according to the Associated Press.

Clive Seale, a professor at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry who conducted the survey, said "nonreligious doctors should confess their predilections to their patients" to make certain physicians are making decisions in line with those patients' desires, the story said.

The British Medical Association's guidelines say doctors are not to permit their religious beliefs to interfere with their care of patients, according to AP.

Britain's National Council for Palliative Care underwrote the survey.