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Competency 4 – Maintaining relationship with patients:Comply with health and safety legislation

Objective: to ensure the appreciation of the professional position of the OH advisor, employer and employees

ATTITUDES

COMPLY WITH HEALTH AND SAFETY LEGISLATION, UNDERGO HEALTH SURVEILLANCE WHEN REQUIRED TO AND NOTIFY RELEVANT HEALTH CONDITIONS TO EMPLOYER/OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH ADVISOR

Doctors like other health care workers and employees must abide by health and safety legislation. They must also follow GMC guidance in respect to their own health and patient safety.

Health surveillance involves the application of tests to a defined population to identify pre- symptomatic disease or adverse health effects. The objective is to safe guard health and reduces the risk of disease.

Testing is undertaken in some circumstances to ensure the safety of others as well as the safety of the individual. Healthcare workers could in some instances be at risk of passing on serious disease to patients and colleagues. Doctors have an obligation to protect their patients from such exposures. Guidance from the GMC and the Department of Health outlines what procedures should be taken. Examples of such guidance are shown below:

  1. UK health departments. Guidance for clinical health care workers: protection against infection with blood borne viruses. London 1998

All healthcare workers must seek suitable advice following known or likely exposure to a risk of infection. Doctors (and all healthcare workers) who undertake so called ‘exposure prone procedures’ (that is procedures where there is a risk of transmission of infection to patients) are placed under an ethical duty to consider whether they are at risk of having acquired an infection. They must seek suitable advice which will include testing. They must not rely on their own assessment of risk. (Faculty of Occupational Medicine, Guidance on ethics for occupational health physicians).

Every hospital or trust will have policies and procedures for managing exposures or concerns about doctor’s health and safety. It is the doctor’s duty to make themselves familiar with these procedures and comply with the guidance. 

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