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UPDATE: Doctor attacked by patient at Penticton Regional Hospital

A RCMP cruiser is parked outside Penticton Regional Hospital, Monday, Dec. 8, 2014. Police are investigating a patient's alleged attack on a doctor on Friday, Dec. 5, 2014.
December 08, 2014 - 3:09 PM

PENTICTON - A Penticton doctor is recovering from a broken jaw and other facial injuries suffered during an alleged attack by a psychiatric patient at Penticton Regional Hospital Friday.

Police responded to a call at the psychiatric unit at 4:22 p.m. and RCMP arrested 30-year-old Gregory Stanley Nield at the hospital and charged him with assault causing bodily harm and aggravated assault. 

Nurses on the psychiatric unit say the patient calmly walked out of a closed-door session with the doctor and announced he might be dead, according to a media release from the B.C. Nurses’ Union.

BCNU president Gayle Duteil says there is a dangerous lack of security at the province’s psychiatric and forensic facilities.

“Every day, nurses and other health care professionals put themselves on the line and risk being attacked on the job because of inadequate protection against violent patients,” she says.

The Interior Health Authority president and CEO Dr. Robert Halpenny says they have call buttons throughout the unit.

“Interestingly enough we’re working to improve that call system. We’re working on the infrastructure to put in personal alarm devices,” Halpenny says. “I’m not so sure in this situation it would have made all that much difference but it is something we are taking into consideration.”

He says staff took immediate action to respond to the incident and to focus their efforts on securing the safety of patients, requesting the assistance of the RCMP and providing medical care for the injured doctor.

“Interior Health expanded the violence prevention program in 2006 and over the last five years noticed a 38 per cent decrease in reports of violence,” Halpenny adds.

Along with personal alarms, the nurses’ union is demanding security personnel assigned specifically to the psychiatric units in hospitals, security cameras installed and it wants an assurance the patient accused of the assault won’t be returned to the unit in Penticton.

Halpenny says Interior Health will be working with the RCMP and WorkSafe B.C. to conduct a full review and investigation of the attack. The results of the review will be posted to their website.

“We remain committed to working with our physicians, nurses and staff to debrief this incident and seek lessons learned in order to provide the safest working environment possible while balancing the need to provide quality health care.”

RCMP Sgt. Rick Dellebuur says the suspect appeared in Penticton Provincial Court on Monday and has been remanded in police custody for another court appearance Tuesday. Charges of assault causing bodily harm are being recommended.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Howard Alexander at halexander@infonews.ca or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

— This story was updated at 2:52 p.m., Monday, Dec. 8, 2014 to include information from the BCNU and the Interior Health Authority.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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