By THE NATION
The legal action was highlighted after drunk brawlers entered three hospitals in three provinces during the Songkran period to attack their victims, even after they had been hospitalised for injuries.
The attackers refused to stop assaulting the victims, despite warnings from hospital staff and security guards.
“We have consulted the Public Health Ministry’s permanent secretary, public prosecutors and police. The use of violence inside hospitals is a crime,” Medical Council’s secretary-general Ittaporn Kanacharoen said yesterday.
As of press time, Prachuap Khiri Khan police chief Pol Maj-General Surasak Suksawang said the nine people who were involved in a fight inside Bang Saphan Hospital are facing charges of colluding in physical assault.
“There were two groups fighting at a temporary food stall in the province’s Bang Saphan Noi district, when some of them got injured. So, when they ran into each other again at the hospital, another brawl broke out,” he said.
The hospital director has also filed a complaint of property damage because one of the brawlers used a Buddha statue in the fight. The statue had been placed in a prominent spot for people to seek Songkran blessings.
Ittaporn said any physical assault or acts of vandalism inside hospitals before midnight will be punishable by up to one year in jail, which will rise to five years after the stroke of midnight.
Lamenting that most brawlers are drunk, Ittaporn said he wants inebriated people to be barred from entering emergency rooms except in the event that they themselves are patients or are relatives of patients.
“If possible, police and volunteers should help maintain safety at hospitals,” he suggested, adding that society should help protect medical personnel whose mission it is to treat and save people.
Ittaporn added that the Medical Council will raise the issue with relevant authorities and hold a related seminar on May 7.
Kosonlavat Intujunyong, deputy spokesman of the Office of the Attorney-General, said on Facebook that attacks inside hospitals were in blatant defiance of law.
“Police may not be able to arrest them on site, but evidence from CCTV and clips recorded by Good Samaritans will be used to track them down,” he said.
He added that intoxication was not grounds for exoneration.
According to Kosonlavat, those harming others and causing damage inside hospitals could be held liable for several crimes, including physical assault, damaging public facilities, resisting officials’ operations and violation of officials’ orders.