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Metal detectors installed at Turkish hospitals amid violence



Assaults and murders targeting health care workers have prompted authorities to step up security measures at Turkey’s hospitals. The Health Ministry has started setting up walk-through metal detectors at the entrances of health care facilities while security guards scan visitors with handheld scanners for any objects that can be used as weapons.

Security guards serve in all public hospitals in the country though they are unarmed. Most hospitals also have “hospital police” who deal with cases of people involved in crimes and in need of medical checks or treatment for injuries. Yet, hospitals are largely unguarded as providing uninterrupted health services is prioritized, with security checks for each visitor largely non-existent. However, media reports show an apparent rise in attacks against health care workers by patients, their relatives and friends. Most recently, a prominent doctor in the central city of Konya was killed by his patient’s son who blamed the medical professional for his mother’s death.

In the western province of Izmir, six training and research hospitals were the latest to install security equipment. Walk-through metal detectors automatically lock down barriers at the entrance when they detect an “unusual” amount of metal in the possession of visitors while security guards scan each arrival.

Health care workers are revered as members of a “sacred” profession who save lives against all odds. Doctors, nurses and other health care staff have received renewed public appreciation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, sacrificing their lives to care for thousands suffering from deadly infections. Yet, they remain the targets of violent patients, relatives and others.

A report by the Union of Health Care and Social Service Workers (Sağlık-Sen) shows they were subject to 190 cases of violence throughout 2021, involving 364 assailants and some 316 health care workers. All fields, from doctors and nurses to paramedics, were victims of the attacks. A majority of the violent acts were perpetrated by family members of the patients that health care workers treated and attended to.

Most cases involve beatings, while others were limited to verbal harassment; murders are rare. The perpetrators’ excuses to justify their acts of violence are flimsy at best. Some claim health care workers did not give proper attention to their sick relatives while others, unfairly, demand priority in emergency rooms. In some cases, doctors face harassment and assault for refusing to prescribe drugs to addicts seeking access to medications they should not be prescribed.


In March, Parliament passed a bill to better protect health care workers. The bill defined crimes against health care workers as a separate offense for the first time in Turkish law and speeds up legal proceedings against perpetrators of those crimes. Sentences are increased against perpetrators and they will be remanded in custody in severe cases. Previously, perpetrators involved in crimes against health care workers were often released with judiciary control during legal proceedings, something that draws the ire of victims. The bill also increases sentences if the assaulted health care worker is female.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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