BHB focuses on ethics and youth

6 November 2016: 518_file_1Medical ethics and their particular relevance to treating Bermuda’s young people have been under the microscope at Bermuda Hospitals Board (BHB) during the past week.

Staff members and community healthcare partners participated in seminars, continuing education sessions and grand rounds during BHB’s Ethics Awareness Week 2016, held from 31 October to 4 November. The sessions were led by medical ethics expert Dr Christy Simpson, head of the Bioethics Department at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

The BHB Ethics Committee also spent a day immersed in discussions with Dr Simpson about the complexities of making ethical decisions when treating children and adolescents.

Dr Chantelle Simmons, BHB’s chief of psychiatry and chair of the Ethics Education Subcommittee, said: “Not only is Dr Simpson always available to assist us in working through difficult ethical dilemmas, she has come to Bermuda to lead Ethics Awareness Week 11 times.

“Having that external support from Dalhousie and Dr Simpson, and being able to talk through some of these complex matters with an organisation that has considerably more experience in medical ethics than we do is invaluable.”

Ethics Committee member Dr Carla Bean, clinical psychologist for Child and Adolescent Services, Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute, said: “We spent the week exploring some of the ethical issues that can become more complicated when we’re dealing with minors. Not only are you taking the law, professional best practices and the patient’s wishes into account, you’re also considering the wishes of the parents or legal guardians and the child’s ability to understand and make their own decisions.

“It’s not as cut and dried as it can be with adults, who generally have the legal right and ability to make decisions about their treatment.”

The BHB Ethics Committee offers assistance to patients and service users, their families and healthcare professionals.

Dr Simmons said: “People may not realise we are here as a resource for anyone who is dealing with ethical issues around medical care. Ethics is about doing the right thing for the right reasons, and we can guide people in making tough ethical decisions.

“Members of the public can contact us for a consultation by calling 291-HOPE (4673).”

The BHB Ethics Committee comprises about 20 members, including clinical, administrative and community representatives. The Committee promotes awareness of ethical concerns at both King Edward VII Memorial Hospital (KEMH) and the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute (MWI), endorses medical ethics education, provides an ethics consultation service and produces guidelines on prominent issues that can help healthcare professionals consider all aspects of controversial decisions. The Committee also reviews medical research proposals on request and reviews hospital policies to ensure they are ethically sound.

BHB’s Ethics Committee maintains a close relationship with Dalhousie University’s Department of Bioethics, which provides assistance and training in ethical matters.


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