A doctor is planning to turn to the Council of Grand Justices in a bid to stem hospital violence, after claiming to have been beaten up twice in unprovoked attacks by gang members while treating them in emergency rooms (ER).
Lin Yi-chi (林憶直) of En Chu Kong Hospital in New Taipei City (新北市) was quoted by media on Sunday as saying that he plans to apply for an interpretation by the grand justices that he hopes will allow doctors to refuse to treat people who assault them.
Lin highlighted the danger faced by ER staff by sharing his personal experiences at a seminar a day earlier.
He said that four years ago, when he was working at another hospital, he was treating an underworld boss in the ER when one of the man’s henchmen hit him in the face because of a misunderstanding.
Lin later chose to forgive the gangster after he apologized.
The doctor thought he would never encounter such violence again, but late in March, he was assaulted a second time in the ER of En Chu Kong Hospital while trying to stop a group of gang members hitting a nurse who was treating the group’s leader.
“The nurse and I do not know why we were beaten up,” he said.
The doctor and the nurse decided to file a lawsuit against the gang members. The doctor also decided to take the matter even further by seeking a grand justice ruling that would allow doctors to refuse to treat those who use violence against them.
However, Lin’s wish goes against the Physicians Act (醫師法), under which a physician faces a fine of between NT$20,000 and NT$100,000 if he or she refuses to treat seriously ill patients, Chou Tao-chun (周道君), a section chief with the Department of Health’s Bureau of Medical Affairs, was quoted by the Chinese-language Apply Daily newspaper as saying.
The department held a meeting on how to deal with ER violence last month and will organize another in August to discuss whether to impose entry controls at ERs, deputy head of the bureau Wang Tsung-hsi (王宗曦) said.
Lawyer Yen Wen-cheng (顏文正) said that in some specific fields, workers’ rights are constrained for the sake of public interest.
“Should firefighters refuse to put out a fire that occurs at the home of someone they dislike? Should doctors ignore their enemies who are dying?” Yen asked.
Chiu Yi-chun (邱宜君), a researcher with the Taiwan Health Reform Foundation, said Lin’s case shows that hospitals do not have enough security measures and that the health department should address the problem.