Kelowna ER doctor punched while coming to aid of colleague

ER doctor assaulted

Madison Erhardt

A Kelowna man faces up to 12 months in jail for assaulting an emergency physician at KGH just two days before Christmas in 2020.

Brennan Hoda pleaded guilty to assault and mischief and appeared in Kelowna court Monday for sentencing.

Court heard Dr. Mathew Petrie was assaulted on Dec. 23, 2020 after running to the aid of a nurse Hoda was approaching aggressively.

Hoda was in the minor treatment area of the hospital for a hurt foot and grew unhappy with the time he was waiting.

Crown prosecutors say Hoda started to yell and approach a nurse when Dr. Petrie intervened. Hoda then tried to swing at Dr. Petrie, but missed, and hit computers and plexiglass.

Dr. Petrie tried to restrain Hoda, but wasn't successful. Hoda threw another punch and hit the doctor in the jaw and behind his left ear. Security arrived, and Hoda lunged at the doctor again.

Dr. Petrie sustained a concussion and was forced to take two months off of work.

Damage to the computers and plexiglass totalled over $5,000.

The doctor shared a victim impact statement in court Monday, outlining how the incident affected his personal health and well-being.

"I was both emotionally and physically impacted. Emotionally I was upset and stressed by the physical and verbal aggression showed by Mr. Hoda. It was difficult to finish my shift and continue to care for the patients in the emergency department who were also traumatized by witnessing this event and experienced subsequent delays of their care."

"I suffered physical pain from the impact of two punches and more importantly suffered a concussion which took months to recover from. I suffered from such symptoms as headaches, sleep disruption, irritability, and emotional dysregulation."

Dr. Petrie said the attack is part of a spectrum of growing violence experienced in health care settings.

"Dealing with verbally and physically aggressive behaviour by patients and family members has become a daily occurrence in the emergency department in what is already a challenging work environment."

Dr. Devin Harris, the executive medical director, quality and patient safety at Interior Health and an emergency physician, shared a community impact statement.

"It is in the current context of the healthcare system that the impact of this offence must be considered. Healthcare workers have endured the pandemic. They have continued treating patients regardless of their own personal risk and risk to their families. Further, healthcare workers have been the direct targets of protests and demonstrations regarding vaccination and public healthcare policies. There has been a clear increase in workplace violence due to societal shifts and behaviours."

The crown is seeking eight to 12 months for the assault with a concurrent 4-month sentence request on the mischief charge, meaning the two sentences would be served at the same time.

The defence said in court Monday Hoda started using substances when he was 15 years old, and at the time of the incident in 2020, Hoda was drunk, using methamphetamine and hadn't slept for three days.

He has 14 prior convictions.

Over video conferencing, Hoda addressed the courtroom, apologizing for his actions.

"I'm sorry for what happened at the hospital. I regret that day and the way I handled myself and what I did and I am sorry for that. I take full responsibility for it," he said.

The judge will hand down a sentence at a date yet to be determined.

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