Patient clubs hospital man with crutch

2007-12-11 00:00

AN aggressive crutch-wielding patient visiting the Northdale Hospital Out-Patient Department (OPD) ended up in police custody yesterday afternoon after he attacked the hospital’s public relations officer, knocking him unconscious with his crutch.

The drama was apparently started by discontented patients who had been waiting for a doctor since early morning and who then became aggressive towards the medical staff on duty. When the situation got out of hand, a hospital PRO, Vusi Zulu, was called in to explain the situation.

A professional nurse, who spoke to The Witness on condition of anonymity, said Zulu was met by swearing and angry patients who had crowded the OPD since the morning. Some 200 patients attended the OPD yesterday.

When Zulu arrived, he was pelted with objects, said another nurse, then a lame man on crutches charged forward with one of his crutches in the air. He missed another staff member before hitting Zulu hard on the head. Zulu bled profusely and he was taken to the emergency ward before being transferred to Netcare 911 St Anne’s Hospital in a stable condition.

The nurse said normally there are four to five doctors on duty, but yesterday things got out of hand when there were no doctors.

“There was chaos as people screamed and shouted. We put Vusi on a drip and stabilised him for about 20 minutes. We suspected he might have a fracture, and he was bleeding,” she said.

The nurse said that there had been one doctor on duty since morning. She said others are reportedly on leave, one had apparently been mugged and two were sick.

The Health Department confirmed the incident last night, saying that there will be an investigation. The patient, whose name and age are unknown, has been arrested. Police spokesman Superintendent Henry Budhram said the suspect has been charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and will appear in court today.

The incident happened on the same day that The Witness reported the shortage of doctors in government hospitals.

nathi@witness.co.za

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