“Respecting Muslim Patients’ Needs”

The New York Times 
November 1, 2010

Roni Caryn Rabin


A woman in her mid-30s wearing a hijabHijab means “veil” or “curtain,” referring especially to standards of modest dress for Muslim women. While there are many interpretations of the legal requirement, many Muslims agree that women should wear loose fitting clothing and expose no more..., the traditional Muslim head covering, comes to an urgent care center complaining of leg pain. The first thing she asks: “Are there any woman doctors around?”

She declines to be alone in an exam room with a male doctor. She does not want to be touched by a man who is not a family member, even as part of a medical examination.

It’s a hypothetical situation, recounted in a new paper in The Journal of Medical Ethics, but the scenario neatly summarizes some of the dilemmas confronting health care workers in hospitals serving observant Muslim patients. When the traditional health care system cannot accommodate their needs, what are doctors and nurses to do?

[For full article, visit “Respecting Muslim Patients’ Needs.”]