Kiwi-trained surgeon critical after king-hit in Melbourne hospital

  • 02/06/2017

A New Zealand-educated surgeon working in Melbourne is fighting for his life after a man allegedly king-hit him in the head.

Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann was hit in the head from behind, a court has heard, after asking a man to put out his cigarette outside Box Hill Hospital.

Dr Pritzwald-Stegmann, who moved from Germany to New Zealand as a child, was rushed to another hospital and underwent emergency surgery. He remains in critical condition.

Melbourne man Joseph Esmaili, 22, was in court on Thursday charged with intentionally causing injury, before he fled the scene.

He had been suffering drug withdrawals and psychiatric illness, the court heard.

One of Dr Pritzwald-Stegmann's colleagues, Dr John Crozier, says he's unlikely to work as a surgeon again.

The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) has released a strong statement against attacks on medical staff in hospitals.

"This follows media reports this afternoon of an alleged assault on a Melbourne surgeon, now in a critical condition after suffering a single punch to the head last night.

"All interpersonal violence is deplorable - an alleged assault by single punch to a Box Hill surgeon whose life is now critically threatened by resultant brain injury is obscene," Dr Crozier said in the statement.

"The brain is a delicate organ, and the human, ultimately, a fragile creature.

"Such criminal violence is unacceptable."

Dr Crozier says there should be a zero-tolerance approach to violent acts in hospitals.