By Poungchompoo Prasert
VIOLENCE in state hospitals increased in the past seven years, with 51 incidents causing a total of 10 deaths and leaving 56 injured, the Public Health Ministry’s permanent secretary, Dr Sukhum Kanchanapimai, said yesterday.
Among proposed solutions to boost security are a review of emergency wards’ layouts, double doors with controlled access, additional CCTV cameras and the Bt2 million-per-head life insurance coverage for medical personnel at the emergency wards, he tol a seminar yesterday.
Sukhum said 51 violent incidents had taken place at state hospitals between 2012 and 2019. There were 18 brawls, 19 attacks on medical personnel, one case of property-damage, one instance of causing disturbance, six suicideS and six other cases. Such incidents had led to three deaths and 13 injuries among medical personnel and seven deaths and 43 injuries among members of the public, he said.
The number of incidents have increased over the years from one case in 2012, none in 2013, one in 2014, seven in 2015, four in 2016, 10 in 2017, 17 in 2018 and 11 in the first four months of 2019, he added.
Current security measures at emergency wards includes having guards on duty, alarms for personnel to call for help, safety drills and some self-defence training, but more measures will be added, Sukhum said.
The Design and Construction Division of the Department of Health Service Support was told to review the emergency ward layout plans to ensure at least two entrances with strong doors that can be locked and equipped with a key card access system, as well as to find the right position for CCTV cameras in and around emergency wards, he said.
The ministry is also considering buying life insurance for medical staff at the emergency wards for compensation of Bt2 million per head, he said.
Assistant to the Medical Council of Thailand’s secretary-general, Passakorn Wanchaijiraboon, told the same seminar that the council had conducted a survey of security at emergency wards for 1,726 medical personnel (over half of whom were female nurses in their 20s) from April 20-30. Around 51.5 per cent of the respondents said they had encountered some form of violence one to three times on average every year. It also noted that community hospitals had witnessed the most incidents – four to six per year – while hospitals under the police or Army care witnessed one to three incidents per year.
Around 48.4 per cent of the incidents had led to normal injuries, while 26.9 per cent had resulted in organ loss or even death, the respondents said. At 96 per cent of the cases cited, inebriation was the main factor, and 97.2 per cent of the respondents said would welcome a ban on drunken persons entering emergency wards. The survey found that 54.9 per cent saw the risk of violence as contributing significantly to medical personnel resigning.
Deputy spokesman of the Office of the Attorney-General, Kosolwat Inthuchanyong, said intrusion of a hospital’s emergency ward was punishable with 3-15 years imprisonment, especially intrusion to assault a patient receiving treatment, which could also be tried as attempted murder. Intrusion of a hospital’s emergency ward is also liable to a civil lawsuit for damages, he said.
Currently, court trials are ongoing in relation to four cases of alleged intrusion of a hospital’s emergency ward. An unknown number of similar cases are under consideration of the public prosecutor for indictment, he added.