Health workers subject to rising abusive attacks
Abusive incidents involving staff at Waitemata District Health Board are on the rise.
The DHB reported 169 health and safety incidents causing harm to staff across its services in June, of which 36 were physical assaults.
It is the highest number of events in a single month recorded for the 24 months prior, equal to the number reported in September last year.
The incidents included 33 body assaults and 19 general verbal assaults, 17 slips, trips or falls, and eight which were the result of unsafe practices or procedures.
There was one incident of assault with a hand-held weapon, two assaults with a projectile, one incident of bullying or harassment, and three verbal assaults labelled threats.
Abusive events have been on the rise. In the year to June, there were an average of 42 aggressive incidents reported a month, an increase on the previous 12 months, where there were 23 reported incidents a month.
There were a total of 45 aggressive events reported in June. Of those, 54 per cent resulted in bruises or contusions; 17 per cent led to shock, stress or anxiety, and; 6 per cent involved cuts or lacerations.
One incident included in the report noted a staff member received facial contusions from a patient assault.
Patients were to blame for 35 of the 36 physical assaults, with a visitor the perpetrator of the last.
In verbal assaults, 22 incidents were driven by patients, while visitors were the culprits in eight, and staff were at fault for two.
The majority of assaults were sustained by mental health and addictions services staff, a total of 22, with 16 of the reports made by staff working in services for older people’s health.
Half of the assaults were caused by aggression, the report said, while the other half were
‘‘...over 90 per cent of these incidents are clinically derived...’’
caused by delirium or confusion.
‘‘This information should be viewed in the context that over 90 per cent of these incidents are clinically derived and are likely due to patient illness, or their pathway,’’ the report, authored by DHB occupational health and safety group manager Michael Field, read.
It was also thought the higher number of incidents could be due a DHB push for better reporting when health and safety events occur.
Staff at Waitemata DHB, including workers at North Shore Hospital, are increasingly reporting abuse from patients and visitors.