New campaign tackles disruptive and abusive patients
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New campaign tackles disruptive and abusive patients

Disruptive and abusive patient behaviour is once again resurfacing as a pressing issue in Australia, so what can be done to help curb the epidemic?

Unlike businesses that can screen, pick and choose clients that they see as potentially disruptive, stressful or legally risky, hospitals tends to accept new patients and anybody who seeks care. But recent figures and disturbing footage revealing high rates of hospital staff abuse by patients, has sparked a new campaign to tackle this growing healthcare issue.

Shocking footage has been released by the Royal Melbourne Hospital as part of a brand new campaign about aggression in the Emergency Department. Out of all the incidents taking place or about to take place in the ED, there were nine which included a weapon. This is a reported 85 per cent increase on the number of incidents just four years ago at the hospital’s City Campus site, according to the Herald Sun.

But the hospital has released a disturbing new video highlighting the serious incidents staff have to deal with on an all-too regular basis. In one scene, a patient hurls a chair at retreating staff member, and in another a patient smashes a glass door. Other images show aggravated individuals lunging and hurling abuse at workers, before ransacking a front desk.

Nearly 7,500 violent incidents towards staff at one of Australia’s biggest hospitals were reported in 2017 – with patients spitting, punching and hurling chairs at staff in the emergency room. Meanwhile according to WorkSafe Victoria, up to 95% of healthcare workers have experienced some form of assault, either verbal or physical.

The video was launched ahead of a conference held in Melbourne last week looking at ways to improve hospital safety and security.

Royal Melbourne Hospital Emergency Department Nurse Unit Manager, Susan Harding, said the video was a very personal approach to showing what ED staff see and experience on a daily basis.

“We hope the video, which incorporates examples of what emergency staff experience and CCTV footage of actual incidents, has a positive effect on people in the ED waiting room and watching this on social media,” Harding said.
“We want our patients and visitors to understand we are committed to providing the best possible care for them, but to do this we must ensure the absolute safety of the people who provide that care.”

The campaign, ‘Help Us Help You’, is part of the overall bid to improve working conditions for staff backed by the Victoria government’s Department of Health and Human Services and Worksafe Victoria’s Occupational Violence and Aggression campaign, which kicked off in 2017.