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'Swedish hospitals send ambulances too often'

Published: 04 Feb 2013 12:25 GMT+01:00

There has been a 10-percent hike in ambulance call-outs in Sweden in the past three years, and it is not due to a 10-percent increase in emergency cases.

Emergency call operators are afraid of refusing a request for an ambulance and being hung out in the media if something goes wrong, wrote Eric Carlström, an ambulance nurse studying at University West.

"There's a whole bunch of patients who could have taken a taxi or other medical transport instead, while those people who are truly in need of help and need to be picked up in minutes are maybe made to wait for 40 minutes," Carlström said in a statement, according to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

In 2012, Sweden was hit with a number of cases where an ambulance no-show resulted in a death.

In January, a 22-year-old woman died after her request for help was denied because she was "still talking".

SEE ALSO: Ambulance call outrage: 'Are you black or white?'

In February, a 17-year-old boy's parents were forced to drive him to hospital after no ambulance showed up, with the SOS Alarm team later blaming an error in prioritization. He died soon after.

The new report suggests that even the patients are unimpressed.

"You get irritated when you are referred by health services to go in to emergency just to spend six hours of potential sleep time so you can sit there in the glow of some aquarium," said one internet user who was cited in the report.

The study suggests that more time should be invested in training emergency call operators to ensure they feel comfortable trusting their instincts.

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Your comments about this article

13:13 February 4, 2013 by Programmeny
What's so hard for Sweden to understand? If you call for an ambulance, then an ambulance should come. The power shouldn't be in the hands of the dispatcher, ever. The dispatcher is there to take calls and send the ambulance, not to make the decision over my life because she thought my tone was "alert" so naturally, I don't need an ambulance.

This resembels a third world country in that regard. For Pete's sake, in any eastern European country, if you call for an ambulance, you get it.

Why are we paying taxes here again in Sweden if we don't get the decision over our health? Good thing we have money to organize all kinds of retarded events, but if I need an ambulance and sound calm, then I'll be denide one or sent to go by myself to the hospital.

This is a problem that needs to be stopped in Sweden. An ambulance is an ambulance and I decide if I need it or not, not the dispatcher. If it turns out that I wasted the ambulance's time and money for a really minor injury like a cut or a sore throat, then I should pay, sure, but those kind of things should be disputed AFTER making sure my life is not in danger, and not before.
13:36 February 4, 2013 by JulieLou40
Well said.
13:55 February 4, 2013 by procrustes
The answer is simple: if requested, an ambulance should ALWAYS be sent, then if proper authorities determine the service was unwarranted then the requester has to pay the cost.
15:12 February 4, 2013 by k2kats
I wholeheartedly agree. Additionally, it may help to strengthen public awareness about when an ambulance is genuinely needed.
19:16 February 4, 2013 by johan rebel
Swedish hospitals don't send ambulances.
20:59 February 4, 2013 by cogito
And if the caller has a foreign accent, how will the dispatcher/god decide?
11:09 February 5, 2013 by SimonDMontfort
My partner's mother was sent a bill for the ambulance - after she fell badly on black ice and broke her hip and arm.

Maybe SHE was one of those who should have caught a bus to the hospital...?
11:44 February 5, 2013 by Borilla
The sentiments expressed above are absolutely correct. If an ambulance is requested, send one. Don't let a layman paid to answer the phone make life and eath decisions. What has not been said is that this and attendant problems are generated by inadequate supervision and lack of organization and, most of all, "privatization". The local political bodies put the contracts for ambulance service, elder care, etc,for bids (or give them to their friends) and wash their hands of any further supervision. The contractor doesn't make money if he actually has to provide service or the trained personnel he promised, so people die. Until the governing bodies are held to account,the problem won't be solved. By the way, exactly what relevance does the so-called "report" of "an ambulance nurse studying at University West" have to the discussion other than it is his opinion?
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