Abuse of ER staff in UAE 'all too common'

SHARJAH // Doctors and nurses in emergency rooms say they are abused almost every day – sometimes physically – by patients or their families. They complain of threats and intimidation from patients who are forced to wait while others, who are often in urgent need of medical attention, are seen first. Sanet Meyer, E R […]

SHARJAH // Doctors and nurses in emergency rooms say they are abused almost every day – sometimes physically – by patients or their families.

They complain of threats and intimidation from patients who are forced to wait while others, who are often in urgent need of medical attention, are seen first.

Sanet Meyer, E R director at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said aggressive, unruly behaviour occurred every day.

“They are impatient to see the doctors and some of them refuse to go through the triage and registration processes,” Ms Meyer said.

She said aggressive patients obviously did not know how emergency wards operated.

A triage system determines which patients need to be seen first, not order of arrival.

“We inform the patient of the approximate time for treatment during registration at the front desk, and have signs in Arabic and English showing the triage system and waiting time,” Ms Meyer said.

“Some non-emergency patients see another patient rushed in to a bed and getting medical attention immediately, and get upset. They start shouting and screaming but never it reaches a physical level at our hospital.”

She said that whenever a patient became violent or aggressive, security staff were called to try and calm them.

The emergency room at Al Kuwaiti Hospital in Sharjah also has many unruly patients.

“Not a week goes by without an incident or two,” said Dr Abdulmunim Mosa, deputy director of the ER department at Al Kuwaiti.

“The last one I recall was a family member escorting a patient, who attacked one of the ER staff. The incident was referred to police.

“Usually, problems occur with patients’ family members who get restless waiting for them to be treated, although the case is not an emergency and can be treated in outpatient clinics at the hospital.”

The problem can be exacerbated by some patients who stay home feeling sick for days before seeking treatment.

“We classify their case as non-emergency and recommend they go through outpatient clinics,” Ms Meyer said. “However, some don’t want to go because they feel everything needs to be managed in the ER.”

An ER department staff member at another Sharjah hospital said dealing with patients and family was not easy, and relatives often treated staff in a condescending or abusive manner.

“We get screamed at, mistreated and sometimes abused. We are on the front line when they vent while waiting in the ER. It escalates to pushing and shoving sometimes and we call security to deal with the case.

“Patients do not understand the process and blame nurses and doctors for keeping them waiting. They do not know how we are overworked.”

Last week, Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah said a spate of patients mistreating its staff had led to a zero-tolerance approach, with legal action to be taken against abusive visitors.

tzriqat@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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