A Melbourne neurosurgeon has called for stronger security in hospitals to prevent violence, after a man was convicted of killing heart surgeon Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann.
Joseph Esmaili, 24, on Wednesday was found guilty of the manslaughter of Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann, 41, at Box Hill Hospital in May last year.
Michael Wong, a Melbourne neurosurgeon and spinal surgeon who nearly died after being stabbed 14 times at the Western Hospital by a mentally ill patient in 2014, called for stronger security measures in hospitals to prevent such attacks.
Dedicated staff entrances, restricted access to wards and regular security patrols of public areas were some of the measures needed, he said.
“An increased security presence in hospitals will deter violence, and may prevent tragedy like this from happening again,” Dr Wong said.
Dr Wong said over the past few months, violence, assaults and attacks in n hospitals had increased, even in small rural and big teaching hospitals.
“Staff at Sir Charles Gardner Hospital have been affected by spike in violent assaults from aggressive patients,” he said.
“Wagga Base Hospital, based in NSW, is seeing violent incidents on an almost-daily occurrence and is a growing problem.
“Hospital security should not be overlooked in an era of tight health budgets.”
Dr Wong said he and his colleagues were saddened by the senseless loss of Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann, a dedicated, caring colleague.
“The court hearing has been difficult as we “re-lived” the moments of the tragedy,” he said.
“I can imagine this is even more difficult for Christine, Patrick’s wife, and their children.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with them, and we sincerely hope that the jury’s verdict will bring some measure of comfort and closure to the family.”
The surgeon was leaving Box Hill Hospital in May last year, heading home to his wife and children, when he stopped to tell a group including Esmaili to stop smoking near the front entrance.
An argument ensued, ending with Esmaili punching the surgeon and running away.
Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann suffered bilateral skull fractures and was seen bleeding from the nose and mouth after the attack.
His life support was terminated about a month later.
Esmaili will be sentenced at a later date.