Objective: to ensure the appreciation of the professional position of the OH advisor, employer and employees
1. Ethics Guidance for Occupational Health Practice 2012 (Faculty of Occupational Medicine).
UNDERSTAND THE ROLE OF HEALTH PROFESSIONALS IN RELATION TO THE EMPLOYEE/PATIENT AND EMPLOYER.
Health professionals have an ethical duty to put the interests of individual employees/patients first. So, learning of a health risk to an employee, it is the responsibility of the health professional to protect the health of the employee even if this is to the detriment of the employer. However, the health professional also has obligations to the employer, the workforce in general and to the general public.
KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO INVOLVE OTHER PROFESSIONALS
All consultations between an occupational health advisor (either a nurse or a doctor) and an employee are principally confidential. In most cases the occupational health advisor will not need to notify other health professions of their consultations with employees. In some circumstances the occupational health advisor might wish to involve or communicate with the employee’s treating doctor. This is usually the general practitioner (GP) but could involve a hospital specialist and is normally done with the consent of the employee. Such circumstances would include:
It is unusual for an occupational health advisor to refer an employee/patient to hospital/secondary care. Where such a referral occurs, vital relevant information about the employee’s history and current condition, including details of the working environment, occupational exposures and work requirements must be passed onto the referring doctor. This is in addition to notifying the employee’s/patient’s GP. It is not only as a matter of professional courtesy, but the GPs are principally responsible for clinical care of employees/patients and therefore must be informed.
The circumstances in which an OHP may refer to a hospital physician include the following: