Module 4 :
Blood Tranfusions and the Jehovah's Witnesses Patient

Author: John Doyle MD Ph.D. FRCPC

Module Instructions:

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  • You are also strongly encouraged to participate in the Discussion Board for Module 4. There you will be able to ask any questions you may have and read the answers to questions that others have asked. You may visit this Discussion Board now, or after you have completed your Examination.

Goals and Objectives of Module 4:

The purpose of this learning module is to bring readers up to date with new developments in the care of the Jehovah's Witnesses patient from clinical, ethical and legal perspectives.

You will be asked to review readings and cases then answer questions that follow. These answers will not be graded, they are intended for you to self-assess your knowledge of the topic.


Following completion of this learning module, the participant should be able to:

  1. Relate the history of the Jehovah's Witness faith and the biblical justification
    for their refusal of blood transfusions.
  2. Describe which ethical principles may lead to potential conflicts between health care
    workers and Jehovah's Witnesses patients.
  3. Examine several significant legal rulings in Canada and the USA that caregivers should be aware of.
  4. Summarize what blood products are and are not currently acceptable to the Jehovah's Witness patient.
  5. Recognize the impact of the Jehovah's Witness “reform movement” and the nature of recent “doctrinal shifts” in the Jehovah's Witness faith on the matter of blood transfusions.  


The article that follows is an expanded version of an earlier article by the author published in the American Journal of Therapeutics. The author is grateful to Dr. John C. Somberg, Editor of the American Journal of Therapeutics, for providing the necessary permission to make this adaptation possible.

The author is also grateful to Dr. Doreen Cleave-Hogg and Dr. Sharon Davies, of the University of Toronto, for participating in the supplementary peer-review process for this adaptation and for numerous suggestions directed at making the article more appropriate for Canadian audiences.

Abbreviations used:


JW Jehovah's Witness
WTS Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
HIS Hospital Information Service
HLC Hospital Liaison Committee
AJWRB Associated Jehovah's Witnesses for Reform on Blood


A note about printing pages: If you wish to print any pages from this course module, some printers may cut off the text on the right-hand side. To avoid this, we suggest you either print in Landscape mode (page is sideways), OR scale to the page size. These options are usually available in the print popup window or in your printer's settings.


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