The Montreal General Hospital has added–and quickly replaced–a security guard following a weekend attack on two nurses.

One man is facing charges of strangling two nurses in the psychiatric ward after being admitted on Friday.

Hospital staff said this attack is just one of several security issues they’ve discussed with management this year, with Manuel Fernandes saying aggressive patients have injured several people this year.

“We’ve had employees who have been struck. Right now we have about five employees that are off, we have one that will end up with permanent limitations,” said the MUHC CSN spokesperson.

At one meeting staff said more security personnel were needed.

However, as patients’ rights advocate Pierre Blain points out, the MUHC has a tight budget and the provincial budget will not permit a deficit.

“They cut in security and for my point of view it’s not necessary to cut in security. We should cut other places,” said Blain.

According to the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians, attacks in emergency rooms are on the rise.

Alan Drummond said one issue is police officers bringing in patients who need psychiatric care.

“The emergency department is now virtually crowded all the time. People come and wait eight hours in uncomfortable waiting rooms and that can escalate any agitation that they may have,” said Drummond.

He said 85 percent of ER personnel witness verbal or physical abuse each day.

“In our own hospital a couple of weeks ago a registration nurse was attacked with a pair of scissors. This goes on all the time,” said Drummond, who works in Perth, Ontario.

Following the latest attack, the MUHC changed a job description, turning a security guard from part-time to full time.

But the first guard installed was not trained for the job.

“They brought in a security guard from an outside agency. It was their first day as a security guard without any code white training and without any orientation in the hospital,” Fernandes said.

That guard has since been replaced.

A ‘Code white’ disturbance means a staff member has hit a panic button and needs immediate security assistance.

The Montreal General Hospital has 2,000 such incidents each year.