ACEM Steps Up Campaign to Rid EDs of Alcohol-Related Violence

The Australasian College for Emergency Medicine (ACEM) has renewed its call for urgent action to be taken to ensure staff and patient safety in emergency departments across Australia.

In the wake of the Victorian Government saying it would provide extra funding for security in public hospitals following recent incidents in Melbourne, including the assault of a surgeon, ACEM says state ministers across the country need to take action to protect healthcare workers.

”˜While the moves in Victoria to improve the safety and security of hospital staff are welcomed, there is a risk that other states are not paying enough attention to the same issues,’ ACEM President-Elect Dr Simon Judkins says.

”˜Emergency department teams, including emergency physicians and nurses, are on the frontline dealing with the devastating effects of excessive alcohol consumption and often experience assaults or physical threats from drunk patients.

”˜We call on all health ministers to stop the assaults on healthcare staff across Australia.’

Dr Judkins will appear on ABC TV’s Ask the Doctor series tomorrow night to talk about the enormous impact drinking is having on individual health and wider communities, including the people who look after them when they present to an emergency department.

”˜We’ve had staff been physically assaulted, they’ve been scratched, punched, they’ve been vomited on ”“ it’s incredibly confronting and really adds to the stress and burnout [of the emergency medicine workforce],’ Dr Judkins tells the program.

”˜It is not something that we expect that we should have to deal with at our work ”“ but it happens on a daily basis.

”˜Enough is enough. We see horrific injuries [to individuals and healthcare workers], we see domestic violence, we see all sorts of bad things happen to people as a result of alcohol-related violence, and the sad thing is it’s preventable ”“ this doesn’t have to happen if we just change the way we approach alcohol.

”˜We are not trying to be wowsers – it is OK for people to go out and have a drink – but what we want to make people aware of is it doesn’t take long to go from hero to zero.’

”˜Governments, too, need to step up and put in place broad measures to counter this crisis of alcohol-related violence,’ Dr Judkins adds.

Ask the Doctor featuring Dr Judkins will air at 8pm on Tuesday 20 June on ABC.

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