03/03/2015 12:52 EST | Updated 05/02/2015 05:59 EDT

Nurse in Abbotsford ER attacked by patient, union says

An Abbotsford Regional Hospital ER nurse was attacked by a patient this past weekend, according the B.C. Nurses' Union.

"The patient became agitated and savagely attacked the nurse," said union vice-president Christine Sorensen. "The nurse ended up suffering some serious trauma to their head and face and a serious eye injury that required surgery."

Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald said the 39-year-old nurse was attacked by a patient who was receiving medical and mental health treatment. The suspect is currently under psychiatric care and officers are recommending charges of assault causing bodily harm once he is discharged. 

Sorensen said the union wants more protection for nurses and that policies to protect nurses aren't being followed when dealing with aggressive patients. The union's call for action comes after another nurse was attacked by a patient at the Hillside Centre in Kamloops in December.

“Nurses need dedicated security in ER, appropriate staffing and reports must be filed immediately with WorkSafeBC and police. Nurses are professionals who provide care and they should not end up as patients due to violence,” she said.

The Abbotsford hospital was fined $75,000 last May for its "inaction on a previous WorkSafeBC violence issue," Sorensen said.

BCNU's Fraser Valley chair, Katherine Hamilton, said the union has been asking for increased security since 2011.