|News and media|
Waikato Hospital emergency doctor attacked
One of Waikato Hospital's senior emergency department doctors, punched and kicked by a drunken patient on Saturday night, is today considering pressing charges.
The attack came after the man, who earlier in the night put his arm through a plate glass window, started wandering around the emergency department dripping blood and wandering in and out of cubicles.
The doctor said the man went into a cubicle where a 97-year-old woman was getting treatment.
"I stopped him and asked him to go back to his bed and he refused. I asked again and he started swearing at me, then he hit me four times in the face and kicked me."
Security guards and police subdued the man but could not take him away as his arm needed urgent medical attention.
The doctor said that of the 20 patients in the emergency department at the time - one a 9-year-old boy subsequently airlifted to Auckland's Starship Hospital, six were there because of the effects of alcohol.
"This guy caused trouble right from the start and we had him near the co-ordinator's desk to keep an eye on him.
"Because they make a lot of noise and cause trouble they tend to get seen. It's a waste of our resources particularly when there are more deserving cases."
Health Waikato chief operating officer Jan Adams said the attack was "cowardly".
"These are our front line clinical staff being attacked. It's simply unacceptable and the public and our staff need to know we're going to act on it.
"We don't believe our staff should have to put up with this."
It's the second time in a month hospital staff have come under pressure from unwelcome quarters.
Three teenage gang members had hospital trespass notices slapped on them for intimidating staff and patients while visiting a friend.
One of the gang members returned today and security took them away.
"We're here to provide essential hospital services to the public and our efforts are diverted by these sorts of things," said Mrs Adams.
"It's seriously ill people suffering because of these drunken fools and members of the public with no respect for the fact this is a hospital. It's time we started standing up to these people and we'll be talking with police about how together we can sort this out."
A review of visiting hours, security screening in the emergency department and a boosted police presence on campus were all options for discussion, she said.
Mary Anne Gill
Media and Communications Director
Waikato District Health Board
Ph: 07 834 3684
Fax: 07 834 3673
Mobile: 021 705 213