WASHINGTON - They are hit, choked and even spit on. Those who dedicate their lives to saving others say they need help. Hospital staffs across D.C. say violence in the emergency room is on the rise and much of it can be blamed on synthetic drugs.
CEOs from four hospitals along with doctors and nurses testified at a special council hearing on Thursday about an uptick of violence inside emergency rooms.
A security director at George Washington University Hospital said there were 98 violent incidents in September.
At the hearing, hospital officials talked about how some patients on synthetic drugs are brought to the hospital calm. But in some cases, doctors and nurses have been violently attacked.
Often, police have left by then or the patient was originally brought in by ambulance.
Another problem is that those who are brought into the hospital suffering from the effects of synthetic drugs need care for eight to nine hours so that the drug can wear off and exit their body and that is taking up needed hospital space.
“We know that there is a major uptick, we know there’s been violence, we know our workers are being attacked in a much higher number that has previously been the case,” said Robert Malson, CEO of the District of Columbia Hospital Association.
“None of us came here today to this committee hearing that’s thinking that someone may bite us, as happened to one of my nurses last week, may splash us with body fluids, kick us, insult us, discriminate against us by calling us names or threaten us with our lives,” said Dr. Keith Boniface of George Washington University Hospital. “This is unfortunately the environment that we work in at times.”
“I really didn't have an idea of the violence that accompanies the K2 use or PCP use when they get to the hospital,” said D.C. councilmember Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7).
There are calls for stricter penalties for those who attack hospital employees as well as better training for staff and security inside hospitals.
Some say they would like more D.C. police officers to stay with these patients, but with shortages in the police department, that would be unlikely.