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Swedish docs investigated for medical errors in the UK

TT/David Landes · 16 Jun 2009, 17:11

Published: 16 Jun 2009 17:11 GMT+02:00

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The Swedish Orthopaedic Association (Svensk ortopedisk förening) plans to look into how and why patients treated by doctors from Sweden ended up with so many more complications than patients treated by other doctors, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

"It could be an interesting and totally new scientific study on why doctors get significantly worse results when they operate as guests in other countries," Lund University hospital orthopaedics professor and association vice chair Lars Lidgren told SvD.

Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) is also mulling an investigation in order to determine whether or not the Swedish doctors should be disciplined for their sub-par performance.

Between 2005 and 2007, Swedish orthopaedic surgeons were flown to Britain to carry out a number of knee surgery operations.

The move to import “Scandinavian Flying Doctors” was an attempt by UK health authorities to cut down on the five-year wait times many British patients were forced to endure for their knee operations.

Patients from Bristol and Cardiff were offered the chance to have their operations carried out sooner by doctors who had been flown in from Iceland, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden.

More than 700 operations were carried out, but an evaluation by local health authorities of 250 patients, most of whom were operated on by Swedish doctors, revealed that nearly one quarter of the operations needed to be performed again, compared with only 2 percent failure rate for operations carried out by UK doctors as well as Swedish doctors operating in Sweden.

Story continues below…

In six of the cases, British attorneys have launched proceedings against the Swedish doctors, according to Paul Callaghan, a spokesperson for Scanloc, the UK company which recruited the Swedish surgeons.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

17:41 June 16, 2009 by Greg in Canada
25% post op failure. Were the Swedish orthopaedic surgeons drunk or something?? This is medical incompetence at it's worst. Scarey.
17:48 June 16, 2009 by Faunaman
Effect of the "lagom"?? Generalized incompetence?? Too much Fika??
18:30 June 16, 2009 by Puffin
Gosh wasn't this topic done to death when it was debated 3 weeks ago

One of the main problems seems to be in flying in doctors just to operate who are not involved in pre/post operative assessment and care - or given Sweden's general shortage of orthopedic specialists - perhaps the ones that were avilable were not the brightest and best

00:05 June 17, 2009 by Lisaann
There are quite a number of questionable doctors out there. My neighbors daughter had surgery on her toes, and they sent her home walking on her feet, so by the time she got home it was bleeding so much, then they told her she could play soccer after only 2 weeks. When the bandages came off it looked horrible, and the toe was swollen and red, and did not look any much different from before the surgery, her farther took her back and they said, its okay. Honestly I do not know who trains these doctors, but a great many medical errors occur in this town, that they just sweep under the rug, like many other problems in this country! Uk is right for investigating, because there is much truth to it.
07:23 June 17, 2009 by WHATGOESAROUND
It is possible that these so called " DOCTORS" incompetent as they were received shielding from Swedish Medical Authorities. Once outside Sweden, and worst too in the UK where there is the RULE OF LAW, they were exposed and just have to face the consequences.

As an extension, Swedish conservatist will prefer to give research positions to mediocre Swedish Students and keep away their well performing foreign counterparts who largely come from Africa and Asia.

Despite these shortcomings, Sweden has Doctors of very good repute ..these I respect, but those who only hasten patients to early graves Must be brought to Justice.

07:26 June 17, 2009 by Puffin
It is not the UK investigating - it's the The Swedish Orthopaedic Association (Svensk ortopedisk förening)
09:49 June 17, 2009 by DAVID T
I don't remember the last time I was treated by a "Swedish" doctor. Most of the doctors these days are immigrants. The crap pay and high taxes have forced all the good doctors to move to countries that pay them well like UK or USA.
10:16 June 17, 2009 by miss V
Interesting how there were no problems with "guest" doctors from Finland, Iceland and Denmark, but only Swedish doctors. Something to think about.

@David T: Money shouldn't decide if someone is a good or bad doctor. It is a terrible thing to immagine!!! They were grown up when they started their studies, no? Then, they should have know that their pay will not be as high as in US. And, by the way, if a doctor makes mistakes in US he is banned from practicing medicine forever! They work under a great stress, and social securuty in not as good as in Sweden.
11:59 June 17, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
As I understand it, it was because the team primarily consisted of Swedish doctors.
12:01 June 17, 2009 by Bender B Rodriquez
I would also tend to hire someone who can spell...
12:15 June 17, 2009 by Puffin
I've been following this debate in the UK - it's not just Swedish doctors that are cricised but also Polish, Finnish, and German doctors

This inquiry is focussing on the Swedish surgeons as it is being carried out by the the Swedish association of Orthopedic surgeons

However some of the problems that have been discussed in the British debate include the problem of the whole model of flying in doctors for brief periods

- the target culture which meant that the emphasis from the health authority which dictated that the treatment should be as fast and cheap as possible

- the risks of flying people in for limited periods - the surgeons were just flown in for the operations and had little contact with patients - the 2 surgeons reported to the inquiry in Wales that they had no opportunity to follow up on potential complications that had been observed during surgery as they did not have post operative contact from the patients
13:54 June 17, 2009 by Mib
It seems incredible that they have to fly in Doctors. Considering there have been record number of Doctors graduating, I'm surprised. There was even a problem of Junior Doctors being unemployed as they could not get a job!

Just be thankful that the Swedish authorities are investigating. Some countries would just brush it under the carpet.

Salaries are comparable with the UK, but the taxes are much higher. Take into account the difference in property prices and you could say, they were better off here. Add parental care and hey... the UK and US can't compete. Ironically though, the salaries are less in the main cities as there are more applicants.

There are US doctors earning very high salaries, but then they have high insurance costs, work under high stress due to the "sue for any mistake" society that has infected Europe. A friend of mine told me that he visited some friends in the US and the husband (Doctor) was hardly ever home. Nice house, a Porsche etc, but unable to really enjoy it. What's the point? Work to live, not live to work, regardless of how much extra money you get.
15:45 June 17, 2009 by skane refugee
I think I read somewhere that at least some of the Swedish doctors are being sued by their UK patients/'victims' ... so with any luck everyone concerned will get their day in court ... which has the potential to be quite interesting ;o)

... could effectively be a whole country's medical training system in the dock! ;o) ...

... is this Swedish 'investigation' a pre-emptive defence preparation perhaps? ... stage 1 in the standard Swedish response (cloaking, spin and denial) to anything unpleasant or off-message ... particularly relating to the country's carefully (obsessively?!) cultivated image abroad
16:17 June 17, 2009 by Rubbi
These were actually Surgeons not Doctors, maybe the title is a little misleading. This is a cheap way of getting Surgeons in and cutting the waiting lists for operations to look good for their star ratings and keeping board members happy and then waving bye bye to them when they are done. No long term contracts etc etc
01:43 June 18, 2009 by Sam1
I seriously find this very funny, its defaming, but its also true, I have been in Sweden for six months, in a place called Krokom, the health center is full of old doctors, and nurses who are still tinged by racism, and inexperience, they poke your hand a dozen of time to find the vein, they show racism and carelessness directly and thinking its indirect, some are good like 2 out of 20, but the rest are negligent, they lagg you saying why didnt you get treated in your country you are not a tax payer and all that crap, although I have my business through the net, doctor is sarcastic, always in disbelief, not comforting lacks all and any kind of experience to be a doctor, they need to start bringing doctor from otherlands, because its so sorry to know that, not only me met such acts but even social workers too, other Sweds.. well rich Sweds get medicated usualy in UK US; SPAIN RUSSIA, hehe...Hope things get better..
03:30 June 18, 2009 by Kaethar
20:56 June 30, 2009 by Maxin
Here is a terrifying example of swedish healtcare an how they treat patients

21:24 June 30, 2009 by jack sprat
Joking aside,who knows?

Much easier access to cheaper alcohol abroad,possibility to have a few through the week,partying with new friends and also keeping in mind they would not be used to previously letting their hair down weekdays.

It has been known for them to turn up drunk for an op.

Maybe they should be breathalised before being turned loose on a patient with a sharp knife in their hands?


On the other hand I recently saw a Swedish survey on newly qualified surgeons who were carrying out joint replacement operations for the first time.

I think the failure rate on their first 10 ops. was 40%.

Over the next 20 ops. it dropped to half that figure and beyond 30 ops. it was inline with that of the more experienced surgeons.

So if they were newly qualified,who knows?
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