Six weeks’ jail for man who threatened doctors and nurses with Swiss Army knife, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Six weeks’ jail for man who threatened doctors and nurses with Swiss Army knife

A man who threatened doctors and nurses at Sengkang General Hospital (SKH) with a Swiss Army knife and hurled vulgarities at them has been sentenced to six weeks’ jail.

An Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist found that Sim Wee Meng, 48, may have had drug-induced paranoia at the time, but he was not of unsound mind.

Sim pleaded guilty on Dec 26 to two offences under the Protection of Harassment Act. Four other charges, including one of carrying an offensive weapon, were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Phoebe Tan told the court that Sim was taken to SKH because of his high heart rate on March 20, 2021, at about 6am.

After a doctor took Sim’s blood sample, he accused the doctor of injecting cannabis and Ecstasy into his bloodstream.

The doctor reassured him that he had not done so, and Sim eventually settled down. Subsequently, Sim woke up and asked if he could smoke.

When the doctor said “no”, Sim became agitated and hurled Hokkien vulgarities at the doctor. He then pulled out his cannula – a small tube inserted into a patient’s body during medical treatment – and started bleeding.

Two doctors and two nurses attempted to stop the bleeding, but Sim remained agitated and flailed his arms around.

He then pulled out a Swiss Army knife from the pocket of his shorts and waved it at the doctors and nurses around him. Another staff nurse called the police.

Holding the knife, Sim roamed the hospital looking for an exit. At one point, he waved the knife at one of the nurses again.

Eventually, he exited through one of the ambulance bay doors. The police arrived at the hospital and arrested him at about noon the same day.

DPP Tan said Sim had previously been jailed for drug consumption, among other offences.

Defence lawyer Gino Hardial Singh from Abbots Chambers said in his mitigation plea that Sim is an odd-job labourer with a history of mental health issues and drug-induced psychosis.

Mr Singh said Sim was behaving erratically at home before the incident.

The lawyer added that Sim is taking steps to manage his mental health conditions in the hope of living a crime-free life, and that he is also supported by his family.

DPP Tan said the victims in this case were public service workers exercising their duties, and were simply trying to help the accused.

There is a need for deterrence and to signal that this behaviour is unacceptable, said the prosecutor.

Sim’s conviction comes after a new standardised framework to curb abuse of healthcare workers was launched on Dec 13.

All public healthcare institutions such as hospitals and polyclinics will implement the framework by June 2024.

It includes a common definition of abuse and harassment, standardised protocols for response, and measures that can be taken against abusers.

According to the Tripartite Workgroup for the Prevention of Abuse and Harassment of Healthcare Workers’ survey in the second half of 2022, more than two in three healthcare workers had witnessed or experienced abuse or harassment in the year preceding the survey.

Among the affected workers, 75 per cent did not report the incidents, enduring the abuse in silence.

During the launch of the framework, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said healthcare workers have shouldered a heavy workload throughout the years, during the Covid-19 pandemic and also during the wave of Covid-19 infections in December, and they deserve all the support they can get.

While the vast majority of patients and their next of kin are respectful and appreciative of healthcare workers, a small minority resort to words and actions that are abusive, Mr Ong said.

“We really need to protect our healthcare workers against abuse and lift up their morale, because that is the best way to help them serve the great majority of Singaporeans and our patients,” he said.