AANA Updates

Nurse Anesthetists Focus on Caring for the Muslim Surgical Patient

  • Aug 8, 2019

For Immediate Release: August 8, 2019
For more information, contact: AANA Public Relations

Park Ridge, Ill. Islam is the second-largest religion in the world and the fastest growing religion in the United States. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) attending the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Annual Congress (August 9-13, 2019) in Chicago will have an opportunity to learn about this religion to help provide culturally competent care to Muslim patients.

There are more Muslims living in the U.S. than in Libya, Kuwait, or Qatar. The Muslim community represents a variety of ethnic backgrounds, languages, and nationalities. “Muslims are adding a new factor in the increasingly diverse character of patients in the healthcare system,” said Lisa Riedel, DNP, CRNA. “Caring for Muslim patients will be commonplace for many CRNAs, and understanding the culture can help us develop trust between us and the patient, which ultimately improves outcomes.”

On Monday, August 12 at 8 a.m., Dr. Riedel will present, “Accommodations for the Muslim Surgical Patient,” during the AANA’s Goldie Brangman Diversity and Inclusion Lecture.

When caring for Muslim patients, CRNAs and other healthcare professionals need to be aware of cultural issues related to privacy, touch, dietary rules, and medicines that are forbidden except in emergencies.1

Gender Relations and Physical Contact

Many adults limit relations between members of different genders.  Patients may require that they be treated only by a healthcare provider of their same gender. They may prefer not to shake hands with people of different genders and may avoid eye contact because prolonged eye contact between individuals of different genders is considered rude in some cultures. This should be considered a sign of personal modesty and not rudeness.2

Dietary Restrictions

The Quran prohibits consumption of alcohol, pork, and any pork by-products or derivatives. Practicing Muslims follow standards in the slaughter and preparation of meat and poultry called halal, or permissible by Islamic law. Halal food preparations are similar to, although less restrictive than, Jewish kosher preparations.2

Prescription Medicine Considerations

Do not administer medications that contain alcohol, gelatin, or pork-based ingredients to Muslim patients. Gelatin-free alternatives such as antibiotic liquids or halal gelatin tablets may be used instead. Magnesium stearate is forbidden in tablets when derived from an animal source. Islam permits the use of any drug in a life-threatening situation, so providers may use magnesium stearate in an emergency if no alternative is readily available but should explain the situation to the patient.1

The goals of learning to treat a Muslim patient should be for all healthcare professionals to be empowered with the capacity, knowledge, and skills to respond to the special needs of each patient, and as importantly, a patient’s family.


  1. Basem, Attum; Shamoon, Zafar; Waheed, Abdul. Cultural Competence in the Care of Muslim Patients and Their Families. National Library of medicine, National Institute of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499933/
  2. CAIR Oklahoma. The Healthcare Provider’s Guide to Islamic Religious Practices.

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