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Healthcare workers demand lasting cure for assault ‘phenomenon’


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — Assaults on healthcare workers are commonplace, according to sector representatives. 
“Four emergency room (ER) doctors were injured in a week,” President of Jordan Medical Association (JMA) Zeyad Zubi told The Jordan Times on Monday. 
“Almost 10 assaults against healthcare staff are recorded every month,” he added.
Khaled Rababah, president of Jordan Nurses and Midwives Council (JNMC), told The Jordan Times that physical and verbal assaults on healthcare workers are becoming a “phenomenon”. 
He attributed this phenomenon to a number of reasons, including the shortage of medical staff in public healthcare facilities and a lack of proper training for staff, such as trainings in communication skills and conflict resolution.
“Ninety per cent of violent outbursts come from patients’ family members or relatives,” Rababah stated.
He advocated for a number of solutions, including urging the Ministry of Health to isolate emergency rooms from waiting areas. 
“Patients’ relatives and family members should not have access to emergency rooms,” he added.
He suggested creating a “Patients Relations Officer” in healthcare facilities to minimise interaction between healthcare workers and patients’ family members. He also called for increased security in healthcare facilities, especially ERs.
Zubi added that assaults in healthcare facilities are underreported. 
Rababah agreed, noting that many healthcare workers “do not report their assault”.
According to the Jordanian Penal Code, anyone guilty of assaulting healthcare staff receives between four to six months in prison, a penalty which can be replaced with a fine, Zubi said.
“If the same assault happened to a judge or a police officer, the penalty would be almost four years in prison,” Zubi added.
“We need harsh penalties for assaulters,” Rababah said. “We also need legislation to protect and support healthcare workers.”
Rababah also highlighted the need for public health campaigns to change the public’s mindset. 
“Almost 80 per cent of patients who visit the ER go for non-emergency cases,” he said.
A physician in Amman, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Jordan Times that she has witnessed doctors being “hit, punched, slapped and spit on”.  
She added that ER doctors across all demographics experience various forms of violence and are increasingly concerned about becoming victims of violence. 
“I’m one of them,” she said, noting that “beyond physical assault, verbal assault is an almost daily occurrence.” 
She added that she loves her job and wants to help. 
“I am, however, unwilling to accept violence as part of my job,” she said.

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