Threats – Caregiver vulnerability

The attack on a nurse in Braunau im Innviertel caused a sensation across Austria before the turn of the year. In Burgenland, the entrance to a vaccination center was blocked with glue just this week. Since threats and protests in the vicinity of hospitals and against doctors have increased and the threat potential against employees has increased, Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) has announced increased protective measures for medical facilities, health and nursing staff.

“It is good that there are instructions for action, but that cannot be exhausted there,” says the President of the Austrian Health and Nursing Association, Elisabeth Potzmann. In an interview with the “Wiener Zeitung”, she mainly draws attention to a security gap in the professional register and has already contacted the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs headed by Wolfgang Mückstein (Greens).

Register is publicly available

Nurses must register in the health register. Across Austria, there are likely to be around 20,000 freelance and salaried nursing staff. The decisive point is that this health register is also publicly available, whereby the professional location of the respective person is also given.

This is precisely where the health and nursing association sees a crucial weak point that should be addressed. The catch is that the rules for entry in the health register are set out in law. The health and nursing association does not want to give up. She turned to Mückstein’s department “with the request that we find a solution,” says Potzmann. For example, in that at least the details of the place of work are temporarily no longer visible in the health register.

“The place of work is only in some cases the place of residence, namely in the case of self-employed / freelance care workers. The place of residence only appears in the register if it is specified as the place of work There are currently no changes planned, but the situation is being evaluated, “said a statement from the health department.

The Directorate for State Security and Intelligence Service (DSN) has now drawn up instructions for action. She explains to doctors, employees in hospitals, resident doctors and nurses, some of whom are on duty in the mobile service, how they can better protect themselves against possible attacks.

In the letter from the Ministry of the Interior, which was made public through “ZiB 2”, there are references on two pages. In addition to the recommendation to contact the security authorities in advance of announced protest actions and to alert the executive immediately in the event of imminent danger, it is advisable, among other things, not to position any objects that can be used as weapons within reach of patients. As examples, flower pots or letter openers are given in the letter.

Don’t put up any more signs

In addition, there is also the request not to attach a sticker or other information related to a health profession to the car if this is not absolutely necessary, for example the sign “Doctor on duty”. Even clearly recognizable work clothing should not be put in the car. In addition, the DSN advises to watch out for suspicious mail. Finally, it is suggested that particular attention should be paid to the protection of one’s own home, for example to reduce the viewing opportunities through curtains and to make neighbors aware of this.

“Basically there is nothing wrong with it,” clarifies the President of the Health and Nursing Association. In reality, however, protection outside of hospitals or vaccination streets is difficult. “We have a lot of people in mobile care who are very visible,” emphasizes Potzmann. In any case, it cannot be exhausted with “saying: Be careful not to become a victim,” she complains.

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