Healthcare professionals in Australia are calling for 24-hour security guards in hospitals after two nurses and three doctors were injured by a violent patient at Port Pirie Regional Health Service. The 75-year-old man approached a nurse in a hospital corridor, stepped on her foot, and punched her in the head before being chased around the ward, injuring another nurse and three doctors in the process, who were then treated for bruises in the emergency room.
But the patient has yet to be arrested or charged with a crime. The police arrived on the scene to restrain the man, who was experiencing a psychotic episode.
“This follows a spate of violent incidents at regional hospitals where we don’t believe the actions being undertaken by the hospitals and the local health network have been adequate,” Elizabeth Dabars, a spokesperson from the Yorke and Northern Local Health Network (YNLHN), told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Dabars added that all staff have since returned to work and counseling arrangements have been made.
“These major regional hospitals where they have a high volume of patients and violence means those staff really do need support,” she added. “Enough is enough… stop saying that patient and staff safety is important and start demonstrating it by your actions. All these words mean nothing if no action is taken.”
The YHLHN, which oversees the regional hospital, said it is investigating the incident.
“These include safety intervention de-escalation training for staff and providing all staff with duress alarms,” a spokesperson said. “Our Security Working Party continues to investigate a range of measures including considerations of physical improvements at the site, increased training for staff, and the use of security staff.”
The incident comes just a few months after a man was tasered and arrested at the Wallaroo Hospital nearby after smashing 10 windows. Since then, a group of staff members at both facilities have started petitioning for the health network to hire around-the-clock armed security guards. The campaign has already gathered some 2,000 signatures. Nurses at Port Pirie Regional Health Service and Wallaroo Hospital have also started wearing purple scrubs to bring attention to workplace violence.