Leading a press conference at the hospital yesterday afternoon (Sept 12) was Vachira Hospital Deputy Director Dr Wirasak Lothongkham, accompanied by his administrator team and nurses who witnessed the incident.
The news broke online as the incident unfolded on Tuesday night with a video posted of the angry man’s tirade of verbal abuse, punctuated with obscene language. The video garnered more than 200,000 views overnight. (See story here.)
Dr Wirasak explained yesterday that the man, who he did not name, arrived at Vachira, the leading government hospital on the island, with several family members, one of whom, a 35-year-old woman, was admitted for urgent medical treatment.
Dr Wirasak did not specify the relationship between the 35-year-old woman patient and the angry man, who by looks is old enough to be her father.
However, he explained, “The woman’s relatives told the nurses that several of them were drinking together when suddenly the woman started experiencing bad symptoms, and they brought her to the hospital. The nurse helped the woman by giving her a preliminary examination and then took her into the emergency room.
“The nurse also let the woman be registered with a ‘gold card’ so that the emergency medical treatment would be provided free under the government healthcare system,” Dr Wirasak explained.
“When relatives came back (to the in front of the emergency room) after registering the woman (for the ‘gold card’), they asked to enter the emergency room – but the nurse didn’t allow them because there were too many of them,” he said.
“But the man in the video did not agree and he kept asking to go into the room, and the nurse kept explaining that there were already too many people in the emergency treatment room. Four of them were comatose and there were patients on assisted breathing.
“In light of this, the nurse did not allow the relatives to go inside the emergency room. She explained that in such circumstances the doctors and medical staff only allowed relatives in the emergency room if they needed more information about the patient, or if the patient was in a coma and needed close care,” Dr Wirasak said.
This angered the man, who began verbally abusing the nurse and even struck the nurse across the face with a backhand, he explained, after showing the press CCTV footage of the incident.
This part of the altercation did not become viral news because it was recorded on the hospital CCTV, and was not recorded by bystanders’ mobile phones, Dr Wirasak noted.
“After he hit the nurse, she did not respond, but instead stayed behind the desk at the work station,” he said.
“The man then walked behind the partition and grabbed her chair as if he was going to hit her with it, but the other relatives prevented him from doing so and led him away,” he added.
“That is when the nurse called the police,” Dr Wirasak said.
“The hospital has given the the nurse three days’ leave to recover from the incident,” Dr Wirasak noted.
“For this nurse, there has been no history of complaints from patients,” he added.
Regardless, the hospital management will continue to investigate the root cause of the altercation, Dr Wirasak said.
“From the evidence received from everyone involved so far, this seems to have been the result of a breakdown in communication between the staff and the patient’s relative,” Dr Wirasak added.
“The hospital will receive any complaints about staff in order to prevent similar incidents happening in the future, and we will work find ways to reduce the stress of those waiting while relatives receive medical treatment,” he said.
“But please, if there is any impoliteness in the hospital, please file a complaint with us so we can work on avoiding any such instances, and avoid any further violence,” Dr Wirasak said.
Dr Wirasak made no mention of whether police would be involved in any further action over the incident.