• Sweden edition
 

Swede with broken neck sent home on painkillers

Published: 29 Feb 2012 14:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 29 Feb 2012 14:44 GMT+01:00

A man from northern Sweden was sent home from his local clinic with a handful of painkillers, after falling down the stairs of his house and smashing his head through a door in December last year.

When the ambulance arrived the man was asked to walk to the vehicle himself and travelled to the clinic without a neck brace, the man wrote in his report according to local paper Länstidningen.

The doctors at the clinic twisted and turned the man's head in all directions during the examination, finally concluding that he must be suffering from a severe muscle sprain in the neck.

However, as his neck pain wouldn't go away and he became dizzy when standing up, the man went back to the doctor's surgery, where his arm and shoulder were x-rayed. He was then sent home with some painkillers, reports the paper.

Three weeks went by in the same fashion before the man gave up and went for a new consult at a different clinic. While there, his neck was finally x-rayed and after the images had been examined, the man was sent to nearby larger town Östersund.

At the Östersund clinic, he was told that the injuries were too complex to be treated there and the man was told to hold completely still, as the vertebral column was unstable.

According to the doctors at the Umeå hospital where the man was sent next, his neck was in fact broken.

The man had been very lucky, however, as his neck only remained in position when he was lying down.

Every time he moved or sat up his vertebral column moved three centimetres, which is enough to risk causing paralysis, according to the paper.

The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:21 February 29, 2012 by gabeltoon
I am becoming increasingly worried about the healthcare system in SWEDEN.As i'm hoping to travel to SWEDEN i'm worried if anything were to happen to me would i be given treatment and assistance as good as i have had in SCOTLAND. This story is worrying i hope the guy is ok.
16:44 February 29, 2012 by strixy
Not much better in Norway. My hubby broke a small bone in his hand and it has been put together so great his knuckles are in completely different places now!
17:20 February 29, 2012 by Tennin
Sadly, I'm not shocked anymore about the docs and hospitals here.
17:22 February 29, 2012 by cogito
@gaveltoon (#1)

You should be woried--very worried--about the healthcare system in Sweden.

Do a search to see the numerous stories of screw-ups.
17:58 February 29, 2012 by philster61
Is he gonna sue them?
19:51 February 29, 2012 by zooeden
No fripping body sues here, the most you get your case on tv or in the local and then they will have a time to reflect on the matter forever and the cases pale up while they are still thinking what to do...

Roll them heads and start hiring professionals!!!!
20:19 February 29, 2012 by dizzymoe33
I had to call for an ambulance last Thursday morning for my mom. There were two ambulances within 10 minutes of my phone call at my mom's house. The four EMT personnel treated her quickly and with respect and concern. They got her to the Emergency room at the Hospital very quickly and worked on her and treated her respectively. The nurses and doctors worked on her quickly with care and concern. I don't know why this is so difficult in Sweden. I guess they just don't really care about their patients?!!
20:21 February 29, 2012 by jonW
Amazing I had exactly the same,fell down the stairs in my london house in 1984 knocked myself out,was taken to hospital with a fractured skull,spent two days in hospital and was sent home signed off for three weeks.

Had a really stiff neck with dizziness, went back to the hospital and was prescribed powerful pain killers.

My company paid for private physio and she was brilliant but insisted that I have some further xrays before she commenced any treatment and yep I had broken the top two bones in my neck,so 6 months off work and five years of physio/chiropractic treatment followed.But at the end of the day this chap is a lucky guy like I was........It can happen!
20:34 February 29, 2012 by krrodman
Ask almost anyone in Sweden about healthcare in the USA and the typical answer would be something along the lines of, "there is too much wasteful spending in the USA for too little return." By and large, the criticism would be correct.

Ask almost anyone in the USA about healthcare in Sweden and the typical answer would be something along the lines of "the waits are too long for routine procedures and the government looks for ways to save money rather than save lives." By and large, the criticism would be correct.

This case is a perfect example of the problem with socialized medicine, Swedish style. A person falls down a flight of stairs and gets admitted to an emergency department(ED). The doctor on duty has a simple choice. Choice A: he can get a neck x-ray on every patient that arrives in his ED after a fall or Choice B: he can examine the patient and try an determine if the neck injury merits an x-ray.

A doctor in the USA opts for choice A. Everyone gets a neck x-ray. Very expensive. Very wasteful. Completely unnecessary most of the time.

A doctor in Sweden opts for choice B. Saves money for sure. And, he will be correct most of the time; but not all of the time because it is impossible to determine the full extent of a neck injury without an x-ray.

There you have it. The problem here is not a bad doctor, but a healthcare system in Sweden that makes decisions based on financial cost.
22:05 February 29, 2012 by stevo1
Actually, I've had only good experiences here in Sweden. A family member needed a knee replacement urgently and had a procedure within two weeks, and when my son was sick with swedish flu, the hospital ED was very attentive, worked very quickly and had him on the mend in a few hours.

Really, fall down the stairs, put your head thru a door, and you go to your local clinic? what a fool!

the local clinic is for when you have a flu or cold, or a sprain, serious injury merits an actual hospital visit!
22:25 February 29, 2012 by Trenatos
You know, stevo1 is correct.

What they refer to as "local clinic" is usually not equipped to handle any severe cases. They have no emergency room, nor staff trained for that purpose.

Granted, they should have called for an ambulance to transport the man to a proper hospital where they could examine the damage thoroughly, not send him home with painkillers.
22:29 February 29, 2012 by slash_gordon
@ gabeltoon

Be VERY VERY CONCERNED! I would even consider not moving/living in Sweden unless you can get private healthcare through your employer (although private is not particularly that great either, they just listen to you more). I myself am in the process of moving out of Sweden. Healthcare is not the only reason, but definitely plays a major role. Just read krrodman's post. I can speak through experience to say he's spot on!
23:43 February 29, 2012 by Jazz_breeze
someone mentioned to me is that the only thing which gets attention to any doctor even in emergency is Blood. Even if you are bleading but is consious...its not emergency here. Can we do something for the improvement of healthcare system. I think, Its not that bed but yes needs some kind of attention.
06:32 March 1, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
Former UK Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock warned people before the 1983 General Election that if 'Margaret Thatcher wins' - "I warn you not to fall ill"

The same advice seems to apply if you are living in Sweden; to be fair, I once needed some stitches for a cut, and the Swede hospital did that alright - but against that, I had my hearing damaged by incompetent medical procedure at CityAkuten.

This poor guy: it seemed to take a long time for someone to decide his neck was broken
08:42 March 1, 2012 by karex
@stevo

The problem is that when you show up at the emergency room here, if you're not gushing blood all over their floors through a severed artery, they will first ask you if you have booked an appointment. Yes, that's right, you need an appointment for the emergency room. Then they will tell you that you have to go to your local clinic and get an appointment and come back another day. Once you have an appointment they can make you wait up to 6 hours (beyond the time stated in your appointment) before anyone sees you, and in my case, another hour in the examination room waiting for the doctor to show up. Were it not for the fact that I self medicated, I would have been dead - I was suffering a major vascular incident.

A Swedish friend of mine left Sweden for good never to return. he said, and I quote "That accursed country killed my wife". She was having a heart attack and he drove her straight to the emergency room. They made her wait 4 hours and she died in his arms in the waiting room. No one cared.
08:53 March 1, 2012 by nolikegohome
The key word is COMPASSION there is very little or no compassion is the system. The knowledge is at par with the rest of the devloped world no doubt about it they have the knowledge they have the technology but they lack compassion.

Mistakes and wrong diagnosis can and do happen in all clinics and hospitals there is nothing strage about that. We often read the negative parts of the story. Seldom do they write about the good things the medical staff do.We need to rethink our approach on how to deal with humans as humans and not just personla numbers. Some Buddhist teachings could help.
09:18 March 1, 2012 by SaxSymbol73
The other problem here is the ridiculous education system for doctors. Because Swedish universities allow student to continue taking exam after exam until they pass a course, students who would wash out in the US system are allowed to remain and in many cases, eventually graduate and treat patients. The low skill level in general care is truly breathtaking and embarrassing. I had surgery last year and was very pleased, but the care at any vårdcentralen is a joke at best.
10:17 March 1, 2012 by Ter76
This is getting scary!!! My inlaws have always praised the Swedish health system, and put down the Irish system... Sorry I have issues with the Irish health system at times too but we don't send people home with broken bones, not bother to turn up in emergencies, I am still traumatized after reading about the poor women who lost her baby as the doctor said she did not need a csection.,. Makes ya really wonder how safe we actually are here and our children!
12:46 March 1, 2012 by Not Dumb
Be scared, be very scared.

I have an environmental condition that my vårdcentral says it cannot diagnose properly or treat, and refers me to the local Allergy Clinic for treatment. The Allergy Clinic then repeatedly refuses the vårdcentral's referrals, referring me back to it, my health having now deteriorated markedly and continuing to do so.

When I complained to Socialstyrelsen, citing a blatant and life-threatening denial of care, they accepted the complaint, and then decided there was no problem with the Allergy Clinic's actions. Surreal!
11:35 March 2, 2012 by cogito
"A Swedish friend of mine left Sweden for good never to return. he said, and I quote "That accursed country killed my wife" (#15)

karex,

I have met many Swedes in France, Spain and the U.S. who said they left Sweden for their health.

I waited nine hours at Emergency here. It was only a broken limb, subsequent to being hit by a car. But hey did not check me for possible head injuries, which should have been routine anywhere with proper procedures.

An elderly woman who had suffered a stroke, had been waiting only six hours.
17:31 March 2, 2012 by Dolores Claesson
When my daughter was three years old she fell off a chair and broke her arm. I took her to the ER and they said to come back the next day around noon cause they would be too busy before then. We did and the arm was broken and we spent hours waiting to ge the cast. Then my daughter went to visit her grand parents in Sweden and became ill. When she returned to America we found out that she had Borrelia, Babesia duncani, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Bartonella, Brucella, HSV 1, HHV 6, Parvo virus B-19, EBV, CMV, to name a few and now she needs IVIG for her low immune system. No one in Sweden would help her and we have asked for help in many places. I know many families in Sweden who are left to die with all these tick borne pathogens. My father in law became very ill in the Spring and we came in the summer and he went to the local clinic and was told that his bulls eye rash was not from the tick he pulled out of his chest and that his dizziness and high fever were also not from the tick and was given a small amount of antibiotics and has segued into alzheimers. Socialized medicine does not care ! Scandinavia is over run with Borrelia, Tularemia etc...This is a world wide epidemic and we need to address it now. Every country is ignoring this huge problem and the American Association called the Infectious Disease Society of America is responsible ! They have the deaths of many on their heads.
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