Abuse through the Consultant’s eyes
AS well as witnessing abuse from patients and their relatives in the emergency department, Dr Dunn, who is Causeway Hospital's Clinical Director for Medicine and Emergency Medicine, has also been assaulted during his career.
He said: “I've been pushed and punched; I've also seen life-saving equipment smashed which ultimately could have put patients' lives at risk.
“Most abuse in the emergency department is verbal with the majority of physical assaults on the wards. Around half of ED incidents are fuelled by alcohol and drugs.
“The problem is under-reported, particularly in ED, because there is an assumption that it is just part of the territory and something you just get on with. We have all witnessed episodes which haven't been reported.
“If you work in that sort of environment you almost expect abuse which is completely wrong, when you are already at the sharp end and have enough to deal with.
“Abuse affects staff and contributes to sickness levels which leaves us short-staffed. Some staff have to go off shift and that inevitably affects the department and how it runs.”
* A full feature on how physical and mental abuse affects staff at Causeway Hospital is published in this week's Coleraine Chronicle