The attack that happened at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu Thursday morning was nothing short of appalling. A man believed to be an alcoholic with criminal records walked into the ward and began assaulting a patient with a stone slab while the attendant was away to a hospital staff for painkillers. The man then knocked down the patient’s wife and her sister, injuring them both and creating mayhem in the room until finally a patient who had undergone a major surgery on the lower part of his body had to get out of the bed and push the man out of the room.

This may read like a scene from some psychologically warped horror flick, but people who where at that hospital room at that time saw it for real and are left shaken.

The incident raises serious questions about safety and security in our health facilities. We can only imagine what could have happened to the patients and the attendants if the man had a knife or any dangerous weapon with him at that time when he pounced on them with mindless and inexplicable rage. It took a while for the hospital staff to show up at the scene. There were only three of them, according to reports, and it took way too long after the incident for anyone from the hospital administration to show up. Response such as this from the hospital authority makes patients and attendants feel uncared and unprotected.

Safety and security is paramount in the service sector, especially in hospitals where children, infirm and old are. Our health professionals could be a little more caring and polite to begin with.

President of JDWNRH, Lhab Dorji, said that although security is there as a deterrent, it is not possible to provide 100 percent security. The hospital has installed CCTV cameras and spends about Nu 333,000 a month on security services in the hospital. However, the fact that even such deterrent measures do not guarantee the safety and security of people inside hospital calls us to seek out ways to improve the overall security system. Blaming the incompetency and lack of professionalism of the private security service providers and not doing anything about it is being complacent.