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Standards for nurses and dentists outlined

Dr Jennifer Attride Stirling

The Bermuda Nursing Council and the Bermuda Dental Board, with the Bermuda Health Council (BHeC), have published documents containing Standards of Practice for professionals working in the two medical areas.

The BHeC, which is led by chief executive officer Dr Jennifer Attride-Stirling, announced the new documents in their quarterly news bulletin. Described as “recently published,” it said the standards “provide guidance on what is expected for health professionals registered with these bodies, and detail the principles and values good clinical practice is based.”

Standards of Practice for Nurses describe what is expected of all nurses registered with the Bermuda Nursing Council (BNC), and includes the principles and values on which they say good nursing practice is based.

According to the document, the standards were developed after “wide” consultation with the nursing profession. The document also states the new standards for Bermuda’s profession compares with standards in Australia, Canada, Caribbean, the US, and United Kingdom.

“They are addressed to nurses, but are intended to let the public know what they can expect from nurses,” the document says, while warning: “Serious or persistent failure to follow this guidance may have consequences for your registration.”

Categories include professionalism, scope of practice, clinical care quality, relationships with patients, and maintaining professional conduct in the community.

Complementary and alternative medicine is addressed, and so is maintaining fitness to practice. Nurses should practice within the skills and knowledge of their training, and should protect the privacy of their patients, states the document.

The Bermuda Dental Board has also released their professional standards. This document states: “These Standards of Practice are intended to provide the basis for the Board to review questions concerning professional ethics as well as a guide for what is expected of all dentists registered to practice in Bermuda.”

It adds: “The dentist’s primary professional obligation is to provide competent care, described here in the Standards. Competent care includes not only the clinical care delivered but all aspects of the dentist’s relationships with patients, colleagues and the community.”

Dentists are given direction in maintaining confidence in the profession, their relationship to patients, and their relationship with colleagues.

Public health issues relevant to each profession are outlined in both Standards of Practice, and they include the information that should be made available to authorities, including child abuse and senior abuse. Communicable and reportable diseases, as well as non-communicable, chronic diseases are addressed.

Diseases such as small pox, human influenza caused by new subtypes and SARS must be reported to the Chief Medical Officer, who in turn will report to the World Health Organisation, the documents

It reveals that currently there is no legal obligation to report gunshot wounds due to confidentiality.

The standards are available at http://www.bhec.bm/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Standards-of-Practice-for-Nurses.pdf and http://www.bhec.bm/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Standards-of-Practice-for-Dentists.pdf