'Unpredictable And Isolated' Stabbing Attack In Hospital Emergency Department
An emergency department doctor has downplayed the need to ramp up security after a 29-year-old woman allegedly stabbed another patient at a Sydney hospital.
The woman allegedly attacked the 45-year-old man with a kitchen knife while they waited in the triage area of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown on Tuesday night.
Dr Sam Bendall, a staff specialist in the hospital's emergency department, described the attack as "unpredictable and isolated".
"We deal with aggressive patients routinely and we are well set up and well supported for that," she told reporters.
Police arrived to find the man with a stab wound to his upper left shoulder about 10:30pm.
Witness Gehad Abbad said he "heard commotion" from the triage area before the woman produced a knife from her bag.
"There was a male and female arguing ... the female was on a stretcher," he told reporters.
"One of the security guards tried to restrain her ... they said some words. She has come back with a kitchen knife and hit him straight in the shoulder."
Abbad claims the woman attempted to strike the man a second time, but was restrained until police arrived.
According to Bendall, security staff were onscene within 30 seconds.
"That's pretty typical," she said. "We can't do our job in the emergency department without the support they give us."
Police said the pair was not known to each other -- the man arrived from Wagga Wagga Base Hospital for unrelated treatment while the woman, who is known to hospital staff, was transported by ambulance from a home in Concord.
Bendall said she was unaware of the woman acting violently in the past.
The man remains in hospital in a stable condition after undergoing surgery.
The woman, who was uninjured, remains under police guard in hospital where she will undergo a mental health assessment.
'We are well supported'
Bendall rejected repeated calls from the NSW Health Services Union for additional security despite acknowledging escalating violence across the state.
"I think we are well supported," she said.
Earlier, HSC Secretary Gerard Hayes said it is the latest in a "series of ugly incidents" at NSW hospitals.
Last October, a man who allegedly threatened security staff at Nepean Hospital was shot by police. One month later, a woman allegedly stabbed a man with a syringe at Lismore Hospital.
“It’s all very well to conduct a review of hospital security, but the time for talk has been and passes,” Hayes said.
“We need 250 extra security guards, working in pairs, with the power to detain and retain. This is extremely serious and if it’s not attended to urgently, I fear the consequences.”
Bendall said her department had a "constant presence" of security staff and has never felt under-resourced.
"I don't think there is a way of preventing these incidents," she said.
"The main thing is we deal with it, and we make sure the patient is treated immediately."
She said calls to install metal detectors at entrances were "inappropriate" and "would not help us".
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