Ethics Committee | Bermuda Hospitals Board

Tel: (441) 291-HOPE (4673) Email:


Ethics and Healthcare

The term ‘ethics’ is used to describe codes or standards of behaviour that are based on a shared understanding of what is right and wrong. In short, ethics involves doing the right things for the right reasons.

BHB actively supports ethical practice within its hospitals. This includes maintaining a consistent ethical approach to clinical decisions, in addition to the organisational decision-making process. More than a decade ago, BHB’s Ethics Committee formed a relationship with Dalhousie University’s Department of Bioethics, which continues to provide assistance and training to BHB in ethical matters.

The Ethics Committee offers informed and reasoned opinions on ethical decisions for patients and families, healthcare professionals and the public.

A number of ethics principles guide us as we provide services. These include: confidentiality, respect for autonomy, informed consent, beneficence (to do good) and non-maleficence (to do as little harm as possible).


What does the BHB Ethics Committee do?

The Ethics Committee:

  • guides staff, patients and relatives through difficult decision processes
  • champions and guides ethical issues for BHB workers, patients and their relatives
  • provides critical analysis of BHB policies from ethical standpoints
  • encourages dialogue regarding claims of unresolved ethical decisions in BHB
  • plans, endorses and supports medical ethics education at BHB
  • reviews medical research proposals


Ethics Subcommittees

Consultation Subcommittee: Reviews all requests for consultations on matters of ethical concern. Call 291-HOPE (4673) to discuss your situation and decide whether an ethics consultation would be appropriate.

End-of-Life Subcommittee: Educates professionals, patients, families and the public about end-of-life decision making, and supports best practices with respect to end-of-life challenges and care.

Research Subcommittee: Reviews all local biomedical research in conjunction with the Department of Health to ensure internationally accepted ethical research standards are implemented. (See Useful Resources below.)

Policy Review Subcommittee: Reviews and updates policies directly related to the Ethics Committee, and reviews other BHB policies from an ethical standpoint.

Education Subcommittee: Educates BHB staff and community partners about ethical principles, and the role and functions of the Ethics Committee.


Useful Resources

Ethical Decision-making Framework: Ethical issues arise every day in healthcare, and everyone has a role to play in ensuring the ethical delivery of care. BHB endorses the IDEA Ethical Decision-making Framework to guide and support individuals, teams and families in dealing with ethical dilemmas. Click here to download the BHB IDEA Ethical Decision-making Framework.

Advance Directives: BHB supports the use of advance directives, provided they are consistent with professional standards of care, other BHB policies and the law, as an important component in open and honest communication between patients and the people who provide their healthcare. Click here for more about advance directives.

Ethics Consultation Requests: BHB ethics consultations will be held in response to substantive ethical issues brought forward by BHB staff members and physicians, and by patients, their families and loved ones. Click here to download an Ethics Consultation Request Form.

Research Proposal Applications: All investigators who wish to conduct research involving any BHB resource, or under the remit of the Department of Health Research Governance Framework (2008), must submit a research proposal application. Click here to download a Research Proposal Application Form.

Patient Relations: The Patient Relations Office is here to help ensure your experience at BHB is a good one. We are a resource for patients and their families, including those who may have concerns regarding their experiences at our hospitals and clinics. Click here for information about the BHB Patient Relations Office.