Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) turned the spotlight on ethics in November as the organisation’s staff focused on the rights of patients to make informed decisions about their care.
Medical ethics expert Dr Christy Simpson, head of the Bioethics Department at Dalhousie University in Halifax, worked with staff at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute. They focused on healthcare professionals’ duty to ensure patients are fully informed about their conditions and potential treatment options.
BHB Ethics Committee Co-chair Dr David Harries said: “We encourage patients and their families to become involved in their care. Ask questions if you are not certain about something. Your healthcare team will be happy to provide further information. If something seems unusual or unclear, you should feel comfortable speaking up.”
Co-chair Dr Sharon Alikhani added: “Patients have a right to autonomy in making decisions about their care and treatment. As healthcare providers we have to respect this. It’s not our duty to impose our will on patients. Patients have the right to make certain decisions regarding their treatment even if the decision seems to be at odds with standard medical practice or advice.”
The BHB Ethics Committee is comprised of about 20 members, including clinical, administrative and community representatives. It offers consultations to patients, families and healthcare professionals when dealing with ethical issues around medical care. Members of the public can contact the Ethics Committee for a consultation by calling 291-HOPE (4673).
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