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Are we safe? Are we protected?

  • In 2011 one of my colleagues from my hometown, Shalewu M., age 27, was stabbed directly in the heart in the outpatient department while treating a patient. The patient lashed out at Shalewu, and stabbed him in the hand and then directly in the heart. And the reason why? the patient wanted specialised surgery done on his wrist as he believed he had needles inserted in it. Shalewushowed the patient his Xrays which were clear and referred him to orthopaedics.

    Are we really protected in our work settings? 

    Have you ever been assaulted by a patient?

    I have.

    It was an elderly gentleman who had been brought in by his son. His son said his dad kept experiencing episodes of confusion. Provisional diagnosis was dementia but I wanted to do a lumbar puncture to exclude an infective cause for his confusion( I first exclude raised intracranial pressure on neuro exam) I requested the presence of the security guard, and the patient's son and security guard assisted me in holding the patient still during the procedure. There was no other staff available to assist me as casualty was experiencing a bed crisis and was overflowing with patients. I could not sedate the patient due to his presentation. So I proceeded to perform the LP. considering the situation the LP was quite easy to perform. I closed the specimen bottles and as I withdrew the needle and starting applying pressure, the son and security guard released the patient and before I could even digest what was happening a fist was coming straight towards me. My first instinct was to turn around and face my back to the patient. I was unable to run away as there were people all around and I still had the needles in my hand and I did not want to give anyone a needlestick injury.

    So I just turned my back to him and took the beating,until the son and security guard realized what was happening.

    I hold nothing against the patient at all, it was not his fault. But I do think the public health system needs to be more aware of the risk medical staff experience on a daily basis especially with psychiatric patients. I have witnessed 2 of our nursing staff being assaulted by psychiatric patients.

    Take care of yourself, be aware of your surroundings. 

     

     

    (Name used in this blog entry is not the real name of person)

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