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Confused reaction to disruptive patient justifies payment to terminated security employee

February 1, 2017

In a delayed decision handed down on 2 November 2016 the IRC considered an incident where Mr Siddique, a security employee at a major hospital, was observed on CCTV to push over and injure a disruptive patient. While his actions were found to justify his termination, Commissioner Tabbaa found confusion by supervisors meant Mr Siddique’s activities were not adequately questioned, making his termination harsh. Accordingly, she ordered payment of compensation.

 

Facts

Mr Siddique worked as a Security Officer at RPAH since 2011. On 11 May 2015 he was called to attend an incident in the Emergency Department when a patient was being disruptive. This patient had a history of aggressive behaviour. In concert with another Security Officer, Mr Siddique escorted the patient out using a degree of physical force. While moving the patient off the hospital grounds, Mr Siddique pushed the patient causing a fall which resulted in the need for overnight admission for treatment.

 

ED nursing staff denied calling for security assistance as they were successfully managing the patient to be triaged. They also claimed they had not requested the removal of the patient by Mr Siddique. While Mr Siddique initially denied being the cause of the patient’s injuries, Commissioner Tabbaa agreed the LHD’s use of CCTV was reasonable in finding the conduct of Mr Siddique constituted misconduct justifying his termination. However, the Commissioner considered the injury to the patient would not have occurred but for the confused reaction of nursing staff as well as Mr Siddique’s supervisor. Accordingly, by not preventing the forced removal of the patient, Commissioner Tabbaa found the termination harsh and awarded payment of six weeks’ compensation.

 

Tips for Local Government and Public Sector employers

Although the Commission criticised certain actions of the Hospital’s nursing and security managers for not preventing Mr Siddique from removing the disruptive patient, it is considered this criticism is somewhat harsh and not fully reflective of the many tasks these staff were required to undertake in such a busy area of the hospital. Any employee causing injury to another person in the workplace should be considered for the most serious of sanctions for their conduct, and in the case of Mr Siddique, this took place in the context of his less than full and frank disclosures of the reason for the patient being injured while in his custody.

 

HSU and Sydney Local Health District [2016] NSWIRComm 1033

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