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When he was admitted to the psychiatric unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital he was considered non-aggressive – but then something sent him on a stabbing spree in which five patients and a doctor were injured.
Police plan to charge the attacker with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.
The Junior Doctors Association of SA (JDSA) said the increase in assaults on junior doctors was its biggest concern.
The hospital’s CEO Johanna More said the man was admitted on Saturday for observation and that he had slept most of that day.
That night, the 27-year-old patient allegedly stole a pair of suturing scissors from a trolley and hid them.
“Something triggered him, he got up and started stabbing (other patients),” said More.
The man allegedly stabbed five patients before an intern, who at the time was setting up a drip, intervened and was stabbed in the hand, said More.
The intern’s wound was stitched up and she was sent home to recuperate. On Monday she was admitted to Netcare Milpark hospital for surgery so the wound could be sutured.
“It is only after this that we will know the extent of the injury,” said More.
The other patients received superficial wounds that only required a few stitches.
More said that at the time there was no security in the unit, as the ward was considered to be low risk.
“We can’t place security at every door,” she said, adding that if the patient had exhibited signs of aggression he would have been placed in a separate ward, with a holding facility where he would have been held for 72 hours.
“He would have been treated differently, we would have sedated him,” More said.
The attacker has since been sent to Sterkfontein Psychiatric Hospital and those who were attacked have been given counselling.
Dr Mathabo Hlahlane of the JDSA said the association was concerned about the attack.
“In previous years a junior female doctor was raped by an unknown assailant. Last year a junior doctor was stabbed in Mpumalanga and two doctors were hijacked outside a hospital in Pretoria … Our concern is that these cases of assault are on the increase. We work very odd hours and sometimes we work 36 hours. We have to walk around dark passages and often the premises in hospitals aren’t safe,” said Hlahlane.
She said security measures needed to be beefed up as sometimes people coming into the hospitals weren’t properly searched for dangerous objects.
Jack Bloom, the DA Gauteng’s spokesman on Health, concurred that security at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital was a problem.
“Patients and staff don’t feel safe at Bara. We get people approaching us about it all the time and they are not happy,” he said, adding that R20 million is spent on security at the hospital annually.
Bloom questioned whether correct procedures had been followed. “They shouldn’t have anything around that could be used as a weapon. There are just so many unanswered questions,” he said.
Police are planning to question the intern about the incident.
Other recent incidents:
* June 2011: Senzosenkosi Mkhize, 27, a junior doctor at Middelburg Hospital was stabbed in the chest by a patient. A security guard who tried to stop the patient from fleeing was stabbed in the hand.
* August 2007: A Wits medical student was raped when she walked from the blood bank while running errands at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.
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The Star Africa