Hospitals report rising number of attacks on staff

Emergency services are particularly affected by attacks on staff. Keystone

Swiss public hospitals are tightening their security in response to increasing attacks on their staff. 

This content was published on December 8, 2019 - 15:58

Emergency services and children’s hospitals are particularly affected, writes the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, which investigated at Switzerland’s five university hospitals. 

The Geneva University Hospital (HUG), which unlike the others includes minor cases, reported 5,000 incidents this year in its emergency services. This compares with some 1,500 at the CHUV in Lausanne, 1,200 at the Inselspital in Bern and 900 in Zurich. 

Attacks are mostly verbal, but also physical and include an increasing number of death threats. 

These figures have been rising over the past ten years, writes the NZZ am Sonntag. One of the reasons, according to emergency doctors, is that inhibition levels have gone down. Patients feel less inhibited because they know they will not suffer consequences for verbal or physical violence. 

There has also been a rise in the number of patients visiting hospital emergency services, either because they have not managed to get an appointment with a specialist or they do not have a general practitioner. 

“People today are more and more dissatisfied,” Aristomenis Exadaktylos, head of the Inselspital emergency centre, told NZZ am Sonntag. “For more and more people, health insurance premiums are becoming a financial burden. When they need medical services from us, they think they should get them immediately.”

Parents of sick children can also become aggressive towards hospital staff. Things are particularly tense around Christmas, writes the paper, when many paediatric doctors are on holiday.

As a consequence, security guards are now becoming common in emergency wards, the paper reports. The Zurich Children’s Hospital is also hiring security guards in the evening for the fourth winter. 


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