Hawke's Bay Hospital staff are reeling after a patient tried
to throttle a nurse and another patient.
The attacker was saved from diving out an upper-floor window
by hospital staff grabbing his feet.
A hospital spokesperson said an investigation had begun into
the incident, which happened last week, and staff members
were offered time off and were being supported by an
occupational health and safety team.
"As part of the response to this event, a debriefing with
staff has been held and an investigation has begun as part of
a normal response to an event," the spokesperson said.
Staff would be involved in the investigation "and briefed
over the outcomes and any actions that may be needed to be
put in place to prevent an event like this happening again".
New Zealand Nurses' Organisation associate professional
services manager Hilary Graham-Smith said attacks on staff
Nurses could not predict when a patient or visitor might
become agitated or violent. They were often confronted by
angry family members upset at levels of treatment. "That kind
of situation is happening frequently, particularly in
emergency departments where people come in under the
influence of alcohol and drugs. So nurses and other staff are
subjected to abusive environments."
She said district health boards had responded with extra
security staff "so there is somebody to call when things go
"It is becoming something that is experienced by everyone
that works in the sector at some time or other."
Staff did not expect violence, she said.
"It is a completely unpredictable event and I don't think
people are in the mindset that they are going to be attacked.
They simply manage the event when it happens and it often
comes as a huge shock.
"We didn't sign up for managing that stuff. We sign up for
caring and providing care."
Police are investigating.
- Patrick O'Sullivan of Hawke's Bay Today