'Deranged' patient attacks 6 nurses

2014-05-27 13:43


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Thobani Ngqulanga, The Witness

Pietermaritzburg - Chaos erupted at Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg on Monday after a patient apparently suffering from acute psychosis went berserk and assaulted six nurses in a medical ward.

The man had been admitted to the hospital’s G Ward, instead of H Ward - the psychiatric ward - on Sunday morning.

“A nurse was trying to intervene to stop this man from taking R10 from a cardiac patient who was in a fragile state,” said a hospital insider describing the incident.

He said this made the man angry and he took a sharp object and violently attacked the nurse. “He was so angry that he broke his shirt buttons as he assaulted the nurse. He also attacked other nurses who were trying to intervene,” he said.

Security guards eventually rescued the nurses and restrained the man.


Another source said the patient was brought in by four police officers after being violent at a flat in the city centre.

“He was admitted to G Ward, which is a medical ward, not a psychiatric ward. This is because managers are forcing the admission of psychotic patients to the medical wards, which are not fully equipped to deal with such cases,” the source said.

She said the man was on medication for psychosis, which the matrons were aware of, but he was still admitted to the medical ward.

Sources said this is a regular occurrence at the hospital, which makes nurses and patients vulnerable.

Staff members were concerned that the man was admitted to the medical ward when there were empty beds in the psychiatric ward.

“Even if the patient has to stay for 72 hours before being admitted to Townhill psychiatric hospital, at Northdale they are sent to medical wards for assessment, which places our lives in danger,” said a staff member.


Northdale Hospital spokesperson Mandisa Dlamini said the six nurses assaulted by the patient were given medical attention and sent to a psychologist for counselling.

Dlamini denied that the man was psychotic, saying he had a history of substance abuse.

She said this was an isolated incident, but The Witness reported in 2011 that a patient suffering from acute psychosis attacked a sister-in-charge at Northdale Hospital.

Dlamini confirmed there were security guards inside the hospital, burglar guards and CCTV cameras to ensure the safety of patients and staff.

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