Video has emerged of a shocking attack on a Perth doctor as hospital staff reveal regular assaults are raising increasing concerns for their personal safety.
Disturbing CCTV footage played in a Perth court on Monday showed a horrific incident last November where a doctor at Royal Perth Hospital had his throat crushed in a chokehold by a mentally-disturbed 21-year-old man.
In the clip, patient Mohamed Arab can be seen grabbing a drink of water then walking off, before doubling back and lunging at a doctor who has his back turned, working on a computer.
With his arms around the doctor’s throat, the attacker drags the physician to the ground.
Nearby staff are quick to react, taking six employees to break the chokehold and free the victim before security guards then police swoop to arrest Arab.
The grip partially crushed the doctor’s windpipe, causing swelling to the victim’s throat, but he wasn’t badly hurt and has since returned to work.
Mohamed Arab was handed a suspended prison term by a Perth magistrate on Monday after pleading guilty to a charge of assaulting a public officer, following the incident caught on camera, last November.
The court was told how Arab, who was a frequent patient at the hospital’s emergency department, approached the doctor from behind then grabbed him in a headlock.
The court heard, in the weeks leading up to the attack, Arab had been in and out of hospital many times for serious mental health treatment.
Arab told his lawyer Hugh Kopsen that on the morning of the attack he felt he wasn’t getting the attention he needed.
The 21-year-old said while he didn’t wish any harm on the doctor, “I just wanted some attention… I simply needed to do something drastic.”
Arab pleaded guilty and was sentenced to an eight-month prison term, suspended for 16 months and was ordered to agree with any medical treatment deemed necessary for him.
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Attacks on hospital staff becoming commonplace
Violent attacks to doctors and nurses, like the incident shown in court this week, are becoming so commonplace that police are training hospital employees in self defence and given personal duress alarms.
Last year there were around 6000 incidents of aggression Royal Perth and Armadale Hospitals.
It has become so common doctors and nurses now come to work expecting to be abused, East Metropolitan Health Service chief executive Liz McLeod told 7 News.
She said such incidents were sadly so common, staff were being trained by police in how to defend themselves.
“I was absolutely appalled, bewildered and distressed that we can have incidents like that in our hospital against our staff, who come to work to care for the sick and the vulnerable,” Ms McLeod said.
“We are concerned as employers that we can’t provide a safe working environment for our staff.”