According to the Gauteng department of health, continuous training is being provided to staff on the management of aggressive mental healthcare patients, following numerous documented attacks on the healthcare workers.
Gauteng health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said for the period between January 2020 to November 2021, at least 41 attack incidents on staff by mental healthcare patients were recorded.
“These attacks vary, but in the main, revolve around nurses, doctors and security guards being either assaulted or bitten by mental healthcare patients,” said Kekana.
In one incident, a patient at a clinic in the Sedibeng health district pulled a light bulb from the ceiling and attacked staff.
“The 41 attack incidents happened in 10 healthcare facilities in the province namely: Far East Rand Hospital (12), Leratong hospital (7), Pretoria West Hospital (6), Tembisa Tertiary Hospital (5), Jubilee Hospital (4), Odi Hospital (3), Tara H Moross Psychiatric Hospital (2), Lenasia South District Hospital and Levai Mbatha Community Healthcare centre had one incident each,” said Kekana.
Kekana said the various measures that have been put in place to reduce attacks on staff include sedating the mental patients at casualty on arrival at a facility where necessary.
“In other instances, mental healthcare patients are admitted to 72-hour observation units immediately. Doctors and nurses accompany each other when attending to mental healthcare patients,” she said.
“In addition, the department has placed security personnel at casualty department to assist with psychiatric patients. The department has reported all the cases as injury on duty and referred them to the Employee Assistance Programme for further management.”