Health work­ers sub­ject to ris­ing abu­sive at­tacks

North Shore Times - - OUT & ABOUT - KASHKA TUNSTALL

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...’’

Michael Field

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.

DENISE PIPER/FAIR­FAX NZ

Staff at Waitem­ata DHB, in­clud­ing work­ers at North Shore Hospi­tal, are in­creas­ingly re­port­ing abuse from pa­tients and vis­i­tors.

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