Security: Thimphu police detained a 37-year-old man for attacking a patient and his two attendants in the cabin of the national referral hospital in Thimphu yesterday.

The incident happened at around 5:30am when one of the attendants momentarily left the room.

According to the victims, the suspect entered the room and started hitting the patient on the head.

The suspect also attacked the other attendant in the room, the patient’s wife, who tried to stop the suspect. “I covered my husband’s head with a pillow to protect him but the suspect tore away the pillow,” the patient’s wife said. “I was knocked down on the floor.”

The other attendant rushed back into the room after hearing her sister scream.

When she entered the room, she saw the man standing on a bench and hitting the patient. She pulled him down but he pushed her onto the floor. “He then started hitting me on the head several times,” she said.

Both the attendants were knocked down onto the floor. The patient who had major surgery on the lower part of his body got out of bed and pushed the man out of the room and locked the door.

“The patient collapsed after that,” the attendant said.

One of the attendants suffered a cut on her head and had to have five stitches while the other suffered a swollen head.

There were three staff on duty at the time of the incident, but two were in the other block. According to the staff, the suspect pushed a nurse and fought with a male nurse who was coming towards the room after they heard the victim’s scream.

Meanwhile, hospital security arrived on the scene and detained the suspect who was later arrested by the police.

The patient’s attendant said that some of the attendants of patients in other rooms watched from outside without helping. “We screamed for help but no one came to help,” the attendant said.

“The other attendants later told us that they thought that it was a couple fighting so they didn’t interfere,” she said. “If the suspect had a knife instead of a rock, we would have been killed.”

After the incident, the attendant narrated the story to the doctor on duty. “He was very rude and told me that he is not the right person to complain to,” she claimed, adding: “It would really be helpful to the patients if the health officials talk nicely to the patients.” She said that the nurse in-charge had helped a lot for which she is grateful.

“It seems that the hospital administration and management were least bothered because even hours after the incident, no one from the administration came to see what happened,” she said. “We are not happy because of that.”

The victims are questioning security at the hospital.

The president of the referral hospital, Lhab Dorji, said that the hospital prioritises security but it is not possible to provide 100 percent full-proof security. “We installed CCTVs in the hospital and spend about Nu 333,000 a month for security services in the hospital,” he said.

He pointed out that the quality of the private security service providers in the country is poor. “We can see that there is no sense of professionalism.”

He said that it is not easy to prevent such incidents from happening when the attacker is from within the hospital. The suspect is an attendant of a patient in the orthopedic ward.

It was also patient attendants who were involved in theft cases that occurred in the hospital last year. Lhab Dorji said that the question still remains on how to ensure that patients’ attendants don’t carry out such criminal acts.

“Providing security is our responsibility but if somebody breaches the security and assaults the victims then what can the administration do,” he said. “Psychiatrics counseled the patient and the health officials attended to the medical needs of the victims.”

“According to what I have heard, the suspect is an alcoholic and it has been a few days since he didn’t consume alcohol,” he said. Medical professionals said that when an alcoholic person doesn’t drink alcohol, withdrawal symptoms follow which includes hallucinations.

For the safety of the patients and the people in the hospital, the national referral hospital has installed a biometric access control system. Lhab Dorji said that the system will be launched in the first week of January, next year. “With the system in place, we will control visitors, among others.”

Dechen Tshomo