How I Was Molested By A Patient –psychiatric Doctor

Working in a conventional hospital is no child’s play. It has its difficulties. But working in a psychiatry hospital poses a different challenge. In fact, the latter has bigger challenges. And the story of some members of staff of the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, easily conveys this. 

According to them, working in an environment that has the mentally-challenged persons is more than a tea party.

A member of staff of the organisation and nurse, who craved anonymity for fear of victimisation, said, “A patient bit me in many places and tore my clothes while I was trying to help him out.

“Apart from that, two of my colleagues were injured recently because there were not enough guards to rescue them during a crisis. We are supposed to have restrainers and some other gadgets because patients here can be unpredictable.

“The frequent attacks on us by some of these patients are making some members of staff to seek transfer to other places. Against this back, I must tell you that we need more trained guards to assist us to serve our patients better.”

The story of another worker in the hospital similarly makes an interesting reading. According to the doctor, who also sought anonymity, there was a time she could not go to work for three months because she suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occasioned by harassment from a patient.

The doctor, nonetheless, blamed her assault on the lack of enough trained security personnel in the hospital.
She said, “Anytime I remember that experience I break down because I suffered PTSD and could not even go back to work for three months. A patient molested me and there was no one to defend me.

“This patient was violent. He destroyed many things in the hospital with his bare hands and even his actions scared other patients. While I was trying to douse the tension and counsel his aged mother on how to handle him, he molested me. In fact, as a result of his beating, I could not sleep for some days.’'

Doctors at the hospital are on strike to protest against inadequate security.

The President, Association of Resident Doctors in the hospital, Dr. Jeje Oyetayo, also confirmed that the hazard working in the facility was high.

According to her, two of her female colleagues were attacked in the hospital last June.

Oyetayo, who called on the Federal Government and authorities to review the security logistics in the hospital, said the call was to protect the lives of workers.

She said, “Patients have attacked doctors on many occasions in the hospital because we do not have trained security personnel. The patients also suffer injuries when caregivers are being rescued. This is a setback to their recovery. The government and the authorities must address this. There are no escape routes for workers in case of an emergency, especially when we have an aggressive patient.

“There is no functioning alarm system to alert even the few security officials for help in case of an emergency.

“The Federal Ministry of Health needs to step in to avoid loss of lives as well as bodily harm to health workers as well as patients and their relatives.”

For a social worker at the hospital, the payment of only N5,000 monthly allowance for injuries sustained in lines of duty is ridiculous.

She said, “We went on strike to protest the hazard allowance. It is absurd, how can you be paying us N5,000 monthly for the risk that we take every day. Overseas, special financial consideration is given to workers in psychiatric hospitals.

“The government must look into this. The minimum should be N30,000. It is not even enough to compensate us.”

According to another nurse, apart from having inadequate security personnel, the few ones on the ground are not trained to work with mentally-challenged patients.

He pointed out that there were occasions some of the guards took to their heels when patients went violent because they did not have the necessary skill or gadgets to restrain them.

According to him, security personnel were employed onlocumor contract basis, which makes it difficult for them to get the training and exposure needed to handle the sensitive nature of patients at the hospital.

“Many of them on contract have been working for a year now without any salaries. This will definitely affect their commitment to the job.”

He noted that the hospital also had few crisis intervention officers compared to the number of patients on admission or those that come regularly for treatment.

“The management is not helping matters as well because if you are not paying your security personnel, you do not expect them to work. The update is that those who have not been paid have stopped coming and new ones who have been recruited have not experience.

So, when a patient is violent, the few untrained ones would be on the edge because they do not know the next step to take. This offers the violent patient the opportunity to run away.