A practical approach to the family that expects a miracle

Chest. 2009 Jun;135(6):1643-1647. doi: 10.1378/chest.08-2805.


When a patient is extremely ill and/or dying, and the family expects a miraculous recovery, this situation can be very challenging to physicians, particularly when there is certainty that the miracle will occur through divine intervention. A practical approach is therefore provided to clinicians for engaging families that anticipate the miraculous healing of a sick patient. This strategy involves exploring the meaning and significance of a miracle, providing a balanced, nonargumentative response and negotiation of patient-centered compromises, while conveying respect for patient spirituality and practicing good medicine. Such an approach, tailored to the specifics of each family, can be effective in helping a family come to a place of acceptance about the impending death of their loved one.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Critical Care / methods
  • Critical Illness / therapy
  • Decision Making
  • Family / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / therapy
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Spirituality*