Hospital security has been thrust into the spotlight after the jailing of a man for the one-punch killing of a Melbourne surgeon.
Talented cardiothoracic specialist Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann died after being struck outside Box Hill Hospital in 2017 by Joseph Esmaili.
The 24-year-old attacker was on Wednesday sentenced to at least ten years in jail for the one-punch manslaughter, which came after the surgeon asked him to stop smoking outside the hospital.
Esmaili is the first person to receive a mandatory 10-year minimum jail term under Victoria's coward-punch laws, introduced in 2014.
Following the sentencing, Melbourne neurosurgeon Michael Wong said changes to hospital security were needed to deter violence and avoid similar tragedies in the future.
Dr Wong nearly died after being stabbed 14 times by a mentally ill patient at Melbourne's Western Private Hospital in 2014.
He wants entrances for hospital staff, restricted access to wards and regular patrols of public areas.
"Changes need to be made to protect those that are saving lives," Dr Wong said.
The state's Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said hospital workers are not punching bags and abuse will not be tolerated.
The government has tipped $40 million into a hospital violence prevention fund and improved response procedures for when a patient or visitor is violent and aggressive.
"We have improved security at hospitals, boosted security guards, revised the code grey standards, funded 16 behavioural assessment rooms and we're training up frontline staff to prevent and de-escalate aggression," Ms Mikakos said in a statement.
"Our legislation makes it clear when it comes to smoking outside hospitals: it's not on, except in clearly designated areas. We stand ready to support councils and hospitals to ensure smoking rules are observed and staff are kept safe."
The Australian Medical Association Victoria welcomed Esmaili's imprisonment.
"We are satisfied this sentence will send a strong message that violence against health workers is unacceptable," it said.
Smoking within four metres of public hospitals has been banned since 2015.
After being hit by Esmaili, Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann fell to the floor, hit his head and suffered catastrophic brain injuries. His life support was switched off a month later.
Widow Christine Baumberg said Mr Pritzwald-Stegmann was a loving husband, father and dedicated heart and lung surgeon, who spent his days dealing with lung cancers and other harmful effects of smoking.
"Patrick was brutally and fatally assaulted protecting Box Hill Hospital patients, visitors and colleagues. He should have been safe at work," she told reporters outside court on Wednesday.
"I call on the Victorian government and the management of all Victorian hospitals to properly enforce hospital smoking bans and to provide a safe workplace for all hospital staff.
"The federal government needs to help fund this."
Australian Associated Press