Ambulance call death trial opens in Stockholm
Published: 14 Nov 2011 10:12 GMT+01:00
Updated: 14 Nov 2011 16:08 GMT+01:00
A 52-year-old nurse on trial in Stockholm for causing the death of 23-year-old Emil Lindell by not sending an ambulance in response to his calls for help told the court on Monday he was "completely innocent".
- SOS Alarm has 'severe flaws': agency (12 Nov 11)
- Nurse charged over ambulance call fatality (28 Jul 11)
- Dad reports SOS operator after son's death (23 Apr 11)
- Man died after calls for ambulance ignored (13 Apr 11)
The case dates back to the early hours of January 30th this year when the Stockholm man called SOS Alarm, a company operating emergency response services in several counties in Sweden, repeatedly and asked for an ambulance.
He had been experiencing difficulty breathing and had lost consciousness several times while he spoke with the nurse on the phone.
Several family members chose to leave the courtroom when officials played the recording of Lindell's call to SOS Alarm, while several of those who remained burst into tears.
“Help! Please, send an ambulance,” Lindell could be heard saying.
The 52-year-old man responded on the tape, “I don't hear that you are having any trouble breathing.”
According to prosecutors, the 52-year-old nurse should have prioritized the call and sent an ambulance directly.
By not doing so, prosecutors argue, the man deviated from a medicinal index checklist and through “conscious risk-taking of a serious nature” caused Lindell's death.
The 52-year-old nurse, who no longer works for SOS Alarm, faces charges of aggravated manslaughter
In court, he denied committing any crime.
“I'm completely innocent,” the nurse told the court.
He subsequently gave his version of events from January 30th.
“I couldn't get the puzzle pieces to fit together. The sounds he was making didn't correspond with the physical symptoms. I became uncertain,” he said.
The 23-year-old man was suffering from a ruptured spleen, a condition that requires emergency care, the prosecutor concluded.
A ruptured spleen causes breathing problems and affects circulation to the extent that it can cause a loss of consciousness, as well as pain and extreme anxiety.
Lindell rang SOS Alarm twice in the course of 13 minutes and related the symptoms which he was experiencing.
His mother told the TT news agency of her feelings regarding the trial.
“It's tough, but my son can't be here himself so I have to do this for him,” she said.
“The worst is that he begged for an ambulance. I can't understand that they didn't send an ambulance, but instead torment him with more questions.”
At the same time, however, she doesn't put all the blame on the 52-year-old.
“I actually feel bad for him. He's not the only one responsible,” she said.
Lindell's mother contends that the nurse shouldn't have been working in the position he was in at the time of the calll and that SOS Alarm failed by letting him do so.
The case generated a great deal of interest in Sweden and prompted scrutiny of the service provided by SOS Alarm.
The National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) published a report on Friday sternly criticising the firm for severe flaws in their judgements of ambulance call-outs.
The agency has investigated around 50 cases across the country in the course of its investigations and has demanded that SOS Alarm reply by January 15th with a plan of action to address the deficiencies.