THE THAILAND Nursing and Midwifery Council has vowed to investigate the rough handling of a 90-year-old patient in intensive care, after a clip of the incident sparked public outrage.
But the nursing body also asked for understanding for the heavy workload being borne by the nurse, at one of the country’s largest state hospitals.
“From what I’ve heard, instead of having one nurse for every two patients [as normal], this critical-care unit has one nurse for every eight patients,” the council’s secretary-general Asst Professor Angkana Sariyaporn said on Wednesday.
She was speaking after an outpouring of anger over a widely shared clip showing the nurse throwing a blanket on an aged patient, then violently yanking him from the left side of the bed to the middle before shoving a sheet under his head. The incident occurred at the Buddhachinaraj Hospital in Phitsanulok province.
“We were shocked by the clip and we are sorry for what happened,” said Angkana, adding that the council would set up a panel this week to investigate the nurse in question. Possible punishments for the culprit range from a warning to the revocation of their nursing licence.
Buddhachinaraj Hospital director Dr Suchat Porncharoenpong has proposed that the nurse be transferred out of his facility.
The hospital’s deputy director, Wisit Sathienwanthanee, explained that the nurse may have been overstressed at having to care for so many patients. Buddhachinaraj Hospital is the third largest state hospital in the country, with thousands of patients under its care.
Assoc Professor Dr Somsak Tiamkao, a medical lecturer at Khon Kaen University’s Faculty of Medicine, urged understanding from patients and relatives as the best way of encouraging medical workers to carry out their duties and live up to public expectations.
“I know doctors and nurses are expected to care for patients as if they were their own family members … but sometimes factors affect our delivery of services,” Somsak commented on Facebook.
He pointed out that there were serious shortages of medical staff at several state hospitals, and that doctors and nurses often came to work despite being ill themselves.
“Studies show medical workers suffer more health problems than people in other professions,” he wrote.
According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, nurses at large state hospitals such as Buddhachinaraj Hospital work an average of 296 hours a month, or over 70 hours per week.