Drop in hospital staff assaults
PHYSICAL attacks on Bundaberg Hospital staff have dropped by almost half since the management introduced heightened security measures, figures obtained by the NewsMail show.
Throughout 2011, the hospital recorded 47 cases of physical assault and 83 cases of verbal abuse - a huge drop from the 90 physical assaults and 126 instances of verbal abuse recorded the year before.
Bundaberg Hospital operational executive Luke Worth said most patients treated staff with respect, but there were still some who did not.
"Verbal abuse, threats and physical assaults against our staff are simply not acceptable and will not be tolerated," he said.
"This sort of behaviour does not just affect staff - it has an impact on other patients as well."
Mr Worth said the hospital worked closely with police to help keep staff safe, and patients who had abused staff were prosecuted where possible.
"Intoxication or other non-clinical causes is no excuse for bad or aggressive behaviour and staff and patients are supported to pursue incidents through the legal or justice system," he said.
Mr Worth said the hospital was working to reduce the number of assaults by patients.
"In 2011, we introduced additional security measures to help deal with these types of incidents, such as more CCTV surveillance cameras to monitor problem areas and the employment of a district-wide occupational violence prevention officer," he said.
"Our staff are also provided with the opportunity to attend training to deal with violent and offensive behaviour.
"The ability to deal with aggressive individuals was also a significant consideration in the design of the new Bundaberg Hospital Emergency Department."
But the aggression is not just confined to the hospital.
In July last year, the NewsMail reported a doctor had been racially abused while doing his grocery shopping.
It was not until another shopper stepped in that the offender backed down.