Attack at MCG raises hospital safety questions

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September 7, 2006

Earlier this week, an MCG nurse was assaulted by a psychiatric patient who pulled her into a bathroom by her stethoscope.

She wasn't injured, but the hospital is still reminding its employees about safety.

MCG employees all got an e-mail about the incident, warning them about loose jewelry and even men's ties...anything a patient could grab a hold of and possibly use as a weapon.

As far as Doctor's Hospital medical assistant Eileen Hillis is concerned, her stethoscope is part of her uniform.

"Stethoscope, I usually put on when I get here first thing in the morning and I usually have it around my neck all day long," she told News 12.

And she's never thought twice about it...until now, after learning of the attack at MCG.

"Physicians wear ties, administrators wear you wouldn't commonly think of that as being something that could be used as a weapon to harm somebody," said Kathy Henderson, directory of employee health at Doctor's.

Henderson can't recall a similar scare.

We ran into a doctor in the hallway who happens to carry his stethoscope in his coat pocket.

But walk into any treatment office and you'll see the potential for danger - from open boxes of needles to devices with long cords, all of them easily accessible.

Eileen uses this equipment every day and insists she has never felt unsafe.

"Usually someone's at the front desk, the doctor's usually standing here in the hall if there's patients back here, so there's usually some sort of a backup," she said.

An MCG spokesperson tells us that Public Safety was right nearby when this happened. They're calling it an isolated incident that was over before it began.

We can't identify the patient involved in the attack, but we can tell you that psychiatric patients in general can be highly emotional, oftentimes upset, and can therefore be a greater risk for workplace violence.