Surgeon assaulted at Box Hill Hospital ‘the tipping point’ for safety of doctors, nurses


Updated Fri at 12:15pm

An alleged assault at the Box Hill Hospital that left a heart surgeon with life-threatening injuries is a “tipping point” when it comes to safety, according to the organisations representing Victorian doctors and nurses.
Joseph Esmaili, 22, was charged with intentionally causing serious injury, and will reappear in court in August.

“This incident represents a tipping point,” said Australian Medical Association’s Victorian president, Dr Lorraine Baker, in an email to doctors.

“For some, it has triggered a real anxiety about their own safety.”
The incident has “brought back their own experiences of verbal abuse and violence perpetrated against them while at work,” she said.

The AMA is urging doctors to seek support if they feel overwhelmed.
“Take care of yourselves first so you will be able to continue your care of others,” Dr Baker said.

The AMA promised its members it would not let momentum “be deferred by conducting further reviews”, saying a 2011 inquiry and two previous auditor-general’s reports outlined the scale of the problem.
The Victorian Government promised it would talk to health groups, and bring in new safety measures at hospitals in response to the incident.

‘Enough is enough’, nurses federation says
The union representing nurses wants funding tied to safety improvements, rather than “relying on goodwill” of hospital executives.

“Enough is enough. We can’t have lives threatened as we do now,” the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Lisa Fitzpatrick said.

“What happened on Tuesday will be a tipping point, because the tragedy is so great, the incident is so horrific, that we do have to take the opportunity to learn from that.

“We have to be aiming to prevent occupational violence [in] all forms.”
Dr Baker said AMA is consulting with its members about proposed solutions.
She said a 2016 survey showed 43 per cent of emergency physicians had suffered an attack or physical injury at work.

“I’ve had a report to me from one of our members, working in an [Emergency Department], with security guards around, kicked in the abdomen. Just kept working,” she said.
“It’s time for us to stop putting up with that.”

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