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SOS Alarm has 'severe flaws': agency

SOS Alarm has 'severe flaws': agency

Published: 12 Nov 2011 10:19 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Nov 2011 10:19 GMT+01:00

Emergency services operator SOS Alarm receives heavy criticism from the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) for severe flaws in their judgements of ambulance call-outs.

Mistakes made may have led to deaths, injuries and increased risk, the agency claims.

The agency has investigated roughly 50 reports countrywide, cases in which the ambulance took too long to arrive or failed to show up at all.

Some of the cases have led to further injuries for the patient, while others put the injured or ill at risk.

According to the agency, the reasons behind the flaws are communication problems and, in some cases, failure to locate the correct address.

In one of the cases reviewed, 23-year-old Emil Linnell died in his Stockholm apartment, after repeatedly having phoned for an ambulance.

According to the agency, the telephone operator didn't follow the prepared check-list meant to aid the on-call nurse to ask the correct questions.

On top of this, SOS Alarm's routines for cooperation didn't work. The doctor, supposed to be available for emergency medical assessment, wasn't contacted.

Instead the emergency operator contacted a different doctor altogether, according to the agency.

Linnell subsequently died of a burst spleen.

The agency now demands that SOS Alarm ensure that all employees are given the correct training, and that the routines for cooperation between different professions and caregivers function properly.

SOS Alarm is to present them with a report of the changes made to their operations, latest by January 15th.

If the demands are not met, SOS Alarm can be made to pay a fine, the agency said in a statement.

In total, the agency have investigated 52 cases, but have thus far reached a formal decision in only one of the cases, that of 23-year-old Linell.

Because of this, Maria Carlund, investigator at the National Board of Health and Welfare, didn't want to go into details about the other cases.

How other patients have been endangered or injured is not yet information available to the public.

"But there have been several severe cases," said Carlund to news agency TT.

In the Stockholm case, the nurse at SOS Alarm didn't follow the instructions he had been given. But the board also identified flaws in SOS Alarm's organisation.

"There's a shared responsibility, and we've found fault with both. We've opened a separate case for investigating the circumstances around the nurse," said Carlund.

SOS Alarm were unwilling to comment on the National Board of Health and Welfare's decision on Friday.

"We have to look into this, and won't be commenting until Monday," said Anders Klarström, press spokesman at SOS Alarm, to TT.

Following the death of 23 year-old Linell in April, the nurse who took his call was charged with involuntary manslaughter.

According to the prosecutor, the nurse did not follow SOS Alarm's protocol. The trial is set to begin on Monday in the Stockholm District Court.

TT/The Local/cg (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:18 November 12, 2011 by Swedishmyth
A fine? Paid for by whom? That's a phony punishment if I ever saw one. One arm of government correcting another...good luck with that one.
15:21 November 12, 2011 by old jack
"Mistakes made may have led to deaths, injuries and increased risk, the agency claims."

"MAY HAVE"?

If my neighbor calls me and says that she is in extreme pain and afraid for her life and begs for help to get to the hospital immediately, what would I do?

Would I say, "I don't know - you were well enough to call me, and I only budgeted so much for gas this month. If I drive you somewhere, it's gonna raise my expenses. You'll be okay, just make an appointment to see your doctor." Click. What private individual would say this to their neighbor?!

Bureaucracy breeds mind-numbing apathy, lack of action, and lack of personal responsibility.

Quality health care costs money. Underfunding health care costs lives.
19:50 November 12, 2011 by Douglas Garner
Old Jack... I disagree with plenty that you write, but you are dead on this time!
00:21 November 14, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
It seems that this article is only telling one side of the story to make it more inflammatory.

At first I could not understand this insanity of verifying the need to send emergency care. As far as I was concerned, you just sent the damn ambulance. Then I found out about the other side of this issue that makes the NEED for this process more understandable.

It is not the government trying to save money - it is the government FAILING to PROSECUTE those who abuse the system!

The emergency ambulance system here in Sweden is being used as a TAXI service!

You need a ride to the hospital for some procedure - NOT AN EMERGENCY - and when the ambulance shows up, the patient is waiting at the door with their bags packed! Drunks needing ride home...

I was shocked at some of the stories I heard! What bothers me even more is the government's failure to bring charges against these abuses.

Instead of prosecution, the government chooses to to try to WEED out the abusers through a screening process. It is unfortunate that mistakes are made. I no longer believe that these mistakes are FINANCIALLY derived.

If the government cracked down on the offenders I think there would be a lot less need for screening these calls.
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