Swedish docs investigated for medical errors in the UK

Revelations that patients in the UK treated by Swedish doctors were more than ten times more likely to suffer from post-operative complications has prompted medical groups in Sweden to launch an investigation.

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.

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.

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