Emergency wards are experiencing a crisis, with staff facing growing levels of aggression from patients affected by the use of crystal methamphetamine, or ice.
The shooting of a police officer and a security guard at Nepean Hospital in January has prompted the NSW Government to commission a security audit of all the state’s hospitals. It is believed an ice-affected patient had taken a doctor hostage with a pair of scissors and then pulled the police officer’s gun from its holster when he arrived at the scene.
Staff at Manly Hospital have also spoken out about being exposed to violence, with Lyn Hopper, Branch President of the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association saying they are “taking their life in their hands” when they go to work.
“We’ve had people who’ve been punched in the face over the last year, black eyes, bite marks on the arms, that’s not unusual.”
So what are the stats and why are we seeing an increase in violent behaviour?
While methamphetamine is considered a growing problem in EDs, alcohol is another issue that consistently causes difficulties for staff. As the longest serving Emergency Department head in the country, Senior Australian of the Year Professor Gordian Fulde has said he is keen to address these issues and promote positive change in his new role.
The Improving Hospital Security conference, taking place in June, will explore ways to address violence and aggression in hospitals. Book your place by May 13th to save $200.