Ethics Awareness Week Focuses on Trust

The Bermuda Hospitals Board’s (BHB) Ethics Committee is hosting various events this week to promote the role of ethics in healthcare. Focusing on the theme, “Decision-making: No Ethics, No Trust,” activities include unit presentations, grand rounds and panel discussions for medical staff, learning lunches and a symposium for committee members. Lobby displays will be set up at both King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) and Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI).

Guest speaker, Dr. Christy Simpson, Assistant Professor in the Bioethics Department at Dalhousie University in Halifax, will address health care professionals during the week. Dr. Simpson will demonstrate that trust is a fundamental component of good health care by discussing issues related to trust, such as dignity, vulnerability, power, and uncertainty. “Trust makes a difference to how we, as people who provide and work in health care, understand and approach what we do, as well as how we treat patients and each other,” said Dr. Simpson.

Prominent issues that have received global attention in the field of ethics include genetic engineering, reproductive rights, stem cell research and euthanasia. The Ethics Committee consults on about half a dozen cases every year at our hospitals. Their role is solely to advise and recommend. The committee also reviews medical research proposals on request.

Comprised of volunteers, the Ethics Committee operates under the BHB Department of Quality and Risk Management. Chaired by Dr. Elaine Campbell and Dr. Rosalyn Bascombe, the committee guides ethical issues for staff, patients and by extension, the community. Members include physicians, nurses, dieticians and social workers, well as representatives from trade unions, the clergy, community services, patient advocates and the Ministry of Health.

The committee will continue to play a greater role in our hospitals and in our community as complex issues arise, requiring a new level of knowledge and understanding. “The events we have planned for this week are geared to educate medical staff, our own committee members and the community about the importance of ethics in healthcare,” said Dr. Bascome. “Complex medical decisions often include ethical components. We help doctors, patients and their families navigate those issues.”

The committee promotes awareness of ethical concerns at both hospitals, endorses medical ethics education, develops an ethics consultation service and produces guidelines on prominent issues that can help healthcare professionals consider all aspects of controversial decisions. Members of the public are invited to stop by the lobby at KEMH and MWI to learn more.

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