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A slew of violent attacks against medical staff in public hospitals all over Vietnam recently have prompted hospital administrations to take action.

Tension during emergency situation is inevitable as family members are stressed out over their kin’s medical condition. This, coupled with the constant overcrowding at Vietnam’s public hospitals, can sometimes escalate into violence, often directed at the medical staff who are present at the scene.

Most recently, an attending doctor at Hanoi’s Saint Paul Hospital was pummeled by a patient’s father during his night shift on April 13. Truong Van Thanh, 32, took his son to the emergency room at 11:30pm after the child tore part of his eyelid in an accident. While the doctor was explaining the procedure, Thanh got impatient and started attacking him.

The Hanoi Police Department announced on April 20 that they’ve decided to prosecute Thanh for disrupting public order and hurting the attending doctor.

The Saint Paul Hospital case has once again reignited the discussion surrounding safety for medical professionals in Vietnam as these incidents are unfortunately not uncommon. On their part, more and more hospitals in the country are scrambling to devise measures to tighten security on site.

According to VOV, the Vietnam-Czech Friendship Hospital in Hai Phong has choosen to enlist the local police to establish a guard post within the hospital. The management board also created a hotline to the Hai Phong Police Department to request for help in case of emergency.

Deputy Director of the Vietnam-Czech Friendship Hospital Nguyen Cong Binh shared with the news source that aggression against staff members is a common occurrence at the hospital as it currently serves some 1,000 walk-in patients and 1,700 other resident patients.

At the Cho Ray Hospital, Saigon’s largest general hospital, some medical staff members are taking matters in their own hands to protect themselves from hostile visitors: practicing martial arts.

The hospital’s Vovinam Club – Vietnam’s own martial arts form – was founded a few years ago by Nguyen Thanh Phuong, a nurse from the cardiology department. At the moment it’s currently training some 20 medical staff who wish to practice self-defence to protect themselves from inappropriate patients and visitors.

Huyen, a nurse from the neurology department told Thanh Nien stories of how she was threatened by a drunk patient. In another instance, a hot-headed patient hit her with an IV pole.

Dr. Nguyen Truong Son, director of Cho Ray Hospital shared with VOV that the martial arts club was established not to discipline aggressors but to help staff members defend themselves and improve fitness. Moreover, Son also emphasized the importance of conflict resolution skills among medical professionals when faced with angry family members of patients.

Other medical experts acknowledged that violence against health professionals is not a problem unique to Vietnam. However, in Vietnam, there has been a rise in both the number of cases and the severity of the incidents.

Pham Duc Muc, president of the Vietnam Nurses Association, told Dan Tri that over the last two years, it’s estimated that 8%-38% medical staff in Vietnam were abused while on the job. The figure varies depending on the geographic region and facility.

In some cases, victims become unconscious right in the examination room or suffer multiple wounds. One of the most serious cases of abuse happened in February at the Yen Bai Pediatric and Obstetric Hospital in northwestern Vietnam.

While his wife was giving birth, Le Hong Nam climbed on the balcony outside of the operating theater to film the process. The surgery team saw this and chastised Nam, who became enraged and threatened to take revenge. Upon exiting the theater, two doctors – a surgeon and an anaesthetist – were attacked by Nam and some accomplices. They both suffered concussion, among other injuries, and had to be admitted.

[Photo via VOV]


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