A nurse who took to Facebook to describe how she was injured in the emergency department of the Port Lincoln Hospital has called for more awareness around violence towards health workers.
Amanda Treagus was working in the hospital’s emergency department on Monday when it is alleged she was punched by a member of the public.
Police have charged an 18-year-old man from the Eyre Peninsula with aggravated assault.
Ms Treagus, who received treatment for facial injuries, spoke out about her ordeal in a Facebook post.
“I was violently assaulted at work, performing my nursing duties,” she said in the post.
“The force was so great I have a whiplash injury. My head is incredibly sore, and my neck.”
In the post, Ms Treagus said she had found it hard to speak out, but wanted people to realise violence was not acceptable.
“I enjoy my nice quiet life and like my private life to be just that, but I have been through an ordeal that I feel needs to be put out there,” she said.
“People need to know that it does happen and it shouldn’t be that those who dedicate themselves to care for others can be treated so brutally.”
Police were called to the hospital just after 9am on Monday and arrested the man.
He has been bailed to appear in the Port Lincoln Magistrates Court on September 10.
‘Despicable and unacceptable act’
SA Health’s chief nurse and midwifery officer Jennifer Hurley praised Ms Treagus for sharing her story.
She said SA Health was working to improve safety in its hospitals and had recently completed a review of how it managed challenging behaviours.
“Violence against nurses is a despicable and unacceptable act. We applaud her for actually spotlighting this event and how an unpredictable event leads to these repercussions,” Ms Hurley said.
“She’s been provided with employee assistance and support to enable her to recover but also to return to her profession.
“We have people coming to our emergency departments who need our urgent care. But also that means they, at times, act out when they don’t know they’re acting out.
“People come in at a time of extreme stress. What we try and do is ensure that we … treat them with care and respect.”
Number of situations ‘no doubt increasing’
Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation secretary Elizabeth Dabars has called the incident “appalling” and “completely unacceptable”.
“We are continuing to receive these reports of violence and aggression,” she said.
“It clearly demonstrates the continuing need for a system-wide and comprehensive action plan and a response to end this unacceptable situation.
“It’s very distressing for nurses and other healthcare professionals to come to work wondering whether they’re going to be spat on, kicked, punched, have abuse hurled at them.
“Unfortunately the number of situations – and also the ferocity or the impact of them – is no doubt increasing.”
Ms Dabars called on the state government to commit to a “10-point plan” developed by the union in a bid to improve security for nursing staff.
“We know that it has the full support and is being implemented over in Victoria,” she said.
“We have heard from our Victorian colleagues that it is having a positive effect. We believe that it is the right way to go.”
Labor assistant health spokesman Blair Boyer also called on the State Government to fast-track the safety plan.
“This is the third violent and serious attack on a nurse in just weeks – and still, no serious action from the government,” Mr Boyer said.
“The minister needs to stop delaying and start implementing serious reforms to hospital safety before anyone else is hurt.”