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Medical confidentiality and the protection of Jehovah's Witnesses' autonomous refusal of blood
  1. Osamu Muramoto
  1. Kaiser Permanente Northwest Division Portland, Oregon, USA


    Mr Ridley of the Watch Tower Society (WTS), the controlling religious organisation of Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs), mischaracterises the issue of freedom and confidentiality in JWs' refusal of blood by confusing inconsistent organisational policies with actual Biblical proscriptions. Besides exaggeration and distortion of my writings, Ridley failed to present substantive evidence to support his assertion that no pressure exists to conform to organisational policy nor systematic monitoring which compromises medical confidentiality. In this refutation, I present proof from the WTS's literature, supported by personal testimonies of JWs, that the WTS enforces its policy of blood refusal by coercive pressure to conform and through systematic violation of medical confidentiality. Ridley's lack of candour in dealing with the plea of dissident JWs for freedom to make personal and conscientious decisions regarding blood indicates that a serious breach of ethics in the medical care of JWs continues. The medical community should be seriously concerned.

    • Religion
    • confidentiality
    • Jehovah's Witnesses
    • autonomy
    • blood transfusion

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    • Osamu Muramoto, MD, PhD, is a member of the Regional Ethics Council at Kaiser Permanente Northwest Division and a neurologist at Northwest Permanente PC, Portland, Oregon, USA. Address correspondence to: Kaiser Permanente Interstate Medical Office East, 3550 N Interstate Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97227 USA. E-mail: muramotosa{at}

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