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Dalhousie Journal of Legal Studies

Article Title

Patient v. God: Determining the Standard of Care for Christian Science Practitioners in Medical Negligence Cases

Authors

Austen Metcalf

Abstract

When physicians and nurses make mistakes there is a clearly delineated standard of care that they must have met. When one of these professionals falls below this standard of care, they may be opened up to a lawsuit in medical malpractice. While it is clear that these types of lawsuits are rarely heard and are not often successful, the standard is set and well known. Certain religious individuals shun traditional medicine. In the case of Christian Scientists, illness is simply a physical manifestation of sin. Faith healing is the practice of prayer aimed at reducing this sin, thereby clearing up the illness. Faith healers purport to be “medical” practitioners who provide a service. This paper will analyze the law on the civil liability of faith healers in the United States. Since there is scant evidence on the subject in Canada, it examines the civil liability and standard of care of other alternative medical practitioners in the United States and in Canada to determine how faith healers should be dealt with in Canadian law. The author submits that in Canada faith healers ought to be held to the same standards as other medical practitioners in order to best protect the interests of the public.

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