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New Zealand-trained heart surgeon dies four weeks after one-punch assault

Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann had allegedly asked the defendant to stop smoking in a non-smoking part of the hospital.

Dr Patrick Pritzwald-Stegmann, the heart surgeon who was knocked unconscious by a one punch attack, has died.

The father-of-two died on Tuesday night, four weeks after he was allegedly king hit after asking a man to stop smoking in a non-smoking section of Box Hill Hospital in Melbourne.

The 41-year-old has been in intensive care since May 31 after police alleged he was hit in the face and fell to the ground unconscious.

Joseph Esmaili, 22, has been charged with intentionally and recklessly causing serious injury.

German-born Pritzwald-Stegmann went to Hillcrest High School in Hamilton and The University of Otago.

In light of the surgeon’s death, the investigation will now be overseen by homicide detectives who will await the results of a post mortem before upgrading the charges.

Tributes have been flowing in for the doctor, who has been described as a “respected and admired” member of the hospital.

“Patrick was a passionate patient advocate, a generous teacher and had particular skill in thoracic surgery,” Eastern Health’s chief executive Adjunct Professor David Plunkett said.

“His work was truly outstanding and his commitment and dedication will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and patients.

“Patrick not only leaves a lasting legacy as a surgeon, but as a decent and genuine human being dedicated to the wellbeing of others.”

Last month, the Australian Medical Association condemned the attack and warned that violence against staff had become a common occurrence.

“You should be able to turn up to work and not be abused, threatened or assaulted,” The AMA Victorian president Lorraine Baker said.

“Violence and aggression towards healthcare workers must stop.”

Health Minister Jill Hennessy said the attack on the father of young twins had “brought into crisp and stark reality the great challenge that so many of our health workforce members endure and encounter each and every single day”.

Hennessy pledged to double the funding for health service initiatives aimed at protecting staff, raising it from $20 million to $40 million.

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