Staff from the Royal Melbourne Hospital have released disturbing footage detailing the horrific violence nurses, doctors and staff have been subjected to at the hands of patients.
Attacks against staff often occur in the emergency department, where they are spat on, abused and attacked daily. The hospital has released the footage with hopes it will deter people from the aggressive behaviour next time they seek medical help.
In one horrifying scene, a man can be seen smashing his way through a glass door with a chair he picked up in the waiting room. Another shows a man causing damage to a reception area and trying to headbutt anything and everything in his way.
“At RMH, we’re committed to providing the best care for our patients, but to do this, we must ensure the safety of the people who provide that care,” a statement on Facebook read. “Every day our ED staff care for those in need, but are all too often faced with violent or aggressive behaviour. They didn’t come to work for this. So please, help us help you.”
Staff member Susan Harding appeared on Sunrise and explained that attacks are more common than people think. “We would have incidents of violence every shift on every day,” she said. “And it ranges anything from verbal aggression to physical aggression and incidents such as you’ve seen in the video we’ve made.”
Such attacks have risen by 85 per cent in the past four years alone.
She added that drug addiction was a contributing factor in the rise of violence, but said it wasn’t just patients who were to blame. “Sometimes it’s relatives that come in with patients, so it’s not isolated to drug-affected patients or mental health patients,” she said.
While Harding acknowledged violence had gradually become worse over time, she said staff weren’t as tolerant of such attacks anymore. “We really wanted to make a stand and say this has been around for a really long time, but we’re not going to tolerate it anymore,” she said.
Despite on-site security at hospitals around the country and staff who are trained to handle violent outbursts, Harding said many aggressors act without thinking of the consequences.
Just last year, Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, a heart surgeon at the Box Hill Hospital was tragically killed in the foyer where he worked when a 22-year-old man punched him in the face, causing him to fall and hit his head. The attack prompted some hospitals for put out-of-control patients in comas to protect staff.
It comes as paramedics in New South Wales announced earlier this month they now have the option to refuse help to certain patients if they are concerned for their own safety – even if the patient is in a life-threatening situation.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard welcomed the changes and vowed to keep paramedics safe. The emergency responders are now encouraged to wear video cameras as part of their uniforms as a protective measure if the worst does happen.