Nine out of 10 emergency department (ED) nurses and doctors have been physically threatened or assaulted by drunk patients, while almost all ED staff have been verbally abused, according to a new report.
A heavily pregnant ED nurse was threatened with being punched in the stomach and a physician was knocked unconscious by a drunk patient and left with concussion, according to a survey by the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM).
The Alcohol Harm in Emergency Departments report says 98 per cent of surveyed ED doctors and nurses in Australia have been verbally abused by drunk patients in the past 12 months.
Ninety-two per cent have been physically assaulted or threatened.
Eight out of 10 doctors and nurses also said their ability to take care of other patients in emergency was negatively affected by drunk patients.
College for Emergency Nursing Australasia national director Leeanne Trenning said nurses bore the brunt of alcohol-fuelled aggression.
“Nurses are being subjected to violence and abuse from the very people they’re trying to help,” Ms Trenning said.
“Intoxicated patients take up too much of our time and their behaviour negatively impacts the entire ED.”