Violence in Taiwan's Emergency Rooms: When Medical Staff Get Abused

Violence in Taiwan's Emergency Rooms: When Medical Staff Get Abused
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What you need to know

The current legal system only allows complaints against medical personnel. Some say there should also be a channel for complaints against patients.

On July 13, a 25-year-old man went to the emergency room at Kuan Tien Hospital General Hospital in Taichung to receive treatment for a 3-cm-long cut on his hand. Accusing the nurse of treating him with bad attitude, the man's mother shouted and, along with four other family members, beat the nurse. Three other nurses who attempted to stop the fight were also injured.

In an interview with the Apple Daily, the family says the bad attitude of the nurse "provoked them to commit the crime." In addition, they say the nurse did not have a good attitude and thus was not abiding the moral principles as a medical staff.

The abused nurse posted a photo of his wound from the incident and thousands of netizens are now calling for the abuse of medical personnel to stop. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has also vowed to bring the culprits to justice.

A third-year emergency medicine resident told The News Lens International that verbal violence actually occurs more often than physical violence in emergency rooms.

The doctor says that lack of respect might be the reason for attacks on medical personnel and the Taiwanese are used to taking medical staff as members of the service industry. As a result, people expect medical personnel to be patient, kind and friendly because for them a visit to the doctor is a type of consumer behavior.

However, due to a shortage in medical staff, an excessive workload and the urgency to save lives, "it's hard to maintain a smile or be perfectly patient to different patients."

She also reveals that some patients treat nurses and doctors with different attitudes, with nurses more often taking the blame for medical treatment the patients are not satisfied with. "Minor conflicts happen a lot," the doctor says. "We can only complain about it to each other after work."

Although using violence in medical institutes could lead to public prosecutions since 2014, conflicts between medical staff and patients are still frequently heard of. Furthermore, the doctor doubts the efficiency of the law for preventing similar incidents to happen in the future.

With the current legal system only allowing complaints against medical personnel, the doctor thinks there should also be a channel for complaints against patients. She hopes that if a patient is reported more than three times, the hospital would have the right to refuse to provide medical treatment for the patient.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole


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