• Sweden's news in English

Swine flu toddler dies in Swedish hospital

TT/David Landes · 2 Nov 2009, 11:54

Published: 02 Nov 2009 11:54 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

While test results showed the 3-year-old Simon Hamko was infected with the A/H1N1 virus, it remains unclear what role the swine flu may have played in causing his death.

“We can’t yet pronounce the cause of death, but we’re planning to perform an autopsy so we can do so,” Stefan Engqvist, head physician at Karolinska hospital, told the TT news agency.

Simon’s parents, Rozin and Jack Hamko, first sought care for their son early last week when he started exhibiting symptoms commonly associated with the swine flu, including a high fever, coughing, and vomiting.

“I said that we were losing our son. He hadn’t had any food or water for five days,” father Jack told the Aftonbladet newspaper.

Nevertheless, the doctor at Astrid Lindgren’s who examined Simon said the boy was suffering from a virus which his body could fight off without any treatment.

As the toddler suffered from an undiagnosed muscular disorder, he belonged to one of the risk groups which is supposed to be given priority for the swine flu vaccine, but had not yet received the vaccine.

Swine flu never entered the discussion, however, during the Hamkos' initial visit to the hospital, where the parents were told to keep giving Simon fluids and sent home.

Simon’s conditioned worsened, however, and late on Friday his parents took him back to Astrid Lindgren’s emergency room where they were required to wait nearly 30 minutes before being seen.

Finally recognizing the severity of Simon’s condition, doctors then took him to intensive care, but were unable to revive him when his heart suddenly stopped in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“He died in our arms,” the boy’s father said to Aftonbladet.

At the time of Simon’s death, doctors said the boy was suffering from pneumonia and myocardial inflammation, but his parents learned the following morning that their son had also tested positive for the swine flu.

On Monday, Karolinska’s Enqvist attributed Simon’s death to unsuccessful treatment.

“He was subject to a treatment which wasn’t successful and later died,” he told TT.

Story continues below…

But the child’s parents remain critical of the way their case was handled.

“Those who seek help have to be taken seriously. Doctors can’t react like soulless people who lack any feelings,” said Simon’s father, who remains convinced that his son would have lived if he’d been admitted to hospital upon his first visit.

The doctor who initially treated Simon refused to comment on the matter to Aftonbladet on Sunday.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:25 November 2, 2009 by EtoileBrilliant
My heart goes out to these poor parents. Sadly they will be asking questions for which perhaps there are no answers.
12:55 November 2, 2009 by mobyen
It is really very sad news for all of us. I don't know what to say to the parent. But the Swedish healthcare system could learn something from this child's death. I think all the nurses and doctors must take the cases seriously, they should think Hospital is not a Pub or Cinema hall or any other entertainment centre. People call or come to hospital when they are in serious condition and need help.

Please try to do proper diagnosis and don't send a patient home without any treatment.
13:03 November 2, 2009 by Baned
This is a travesty! Why do the doctors in Sweden completely disregard modern medical improvements? We are not stuck in the 18th century forced to fend for ourselves or seek medical quackery! At least then there was that option!!! Now there is nothing but being sent home or disregarded saying your own body should "fix" itself. I'm not saying to medicate everyone with a simple ailment, but for goodness sake, swine flu is supposed to be circulating! Aren't they supposed to be with the group pushing it's deadly side effects?

What happened to "Primum Non Nocere" meaning, "First, do no harm" (one of the principal precepts that all medical students are taught in medical school and is a fundamental principle for emergency medical services around the world)? It's obvious here that doing absolutely nothing did harm! That doctor needs to have his medical license suspended and the hospital he works in needs to have all it's doctors and faculty evaluated. THIS LIFE COULD HAVE BEEN SAVED!

I know a few Swede's that excuse these things as something that doesn't happen often -- but how can you disregard a human life?
13:45 November 2, 2009 by Brtahan
Sue that stupied doctor , for all the pain he caused to this family. Am sure he must be an old doctor, who cannt see properly and he is greedy to get higher pension. Give chance to young generation old ppl!!
13:49 November 2, 2009 by Zshaikh
The medical system of sweden is totally ignorent n careless.That poor child had suffred from their negligence. If the proper attention would have give in time,the condition could be different.

I hate the Swedish medical System when they make paitent wait so long even in emergencies...I wonder there is no one to take care of this serious issues.

How can they send paitents home in critical conditions, How can they que the seriously sick paitents. They shouldnt play with the lives of innocent people. And the state should take action against the SLOWest Process Medical Sysytem.
14:00 November 2, 2009 by Baned
I am new here, but staying here for good. It won't help to compare how my home country deals with these matters, but it is obvious that there needs to be a change. Generally speaking, if complaining isn't in the native Swede's temperament, then perhaps the new immigrants need to voice their opinion on the matter. This could have been your child.

This could have been anyone's child! It is not a debate on race or ethnic origin. It's about getting adequate medical attention. It's about the need to re-evaluate the procedures of Swedish hospitals!

I'm not exactly sure if The National Board of Health and Welfare is the place to submit my concerns to, but it's a start:

The National Board of Health and Welfare

Lex Maria (http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/lexmaria)

In English: http://www.socialstyrelsen.se/english

Email: socialstyrelsen@socialstyrelsen.se
14:00 November 2, 2009 by peropaco
This is a prime example of how innefective is the swedish medical institution. They always use the same old excuse; the child body is fighting a virus and it is normal; go home and give the kid some alvedon. It probably did not help that the child had a foreign sounding last name either.
15:12 November 2, 2009 by dsclimb
To the above, if you re-read it there are some critical bits of information you seem to be missing.

a. An undiagnosed muscular condition.

b. Viral

The unknown condition that was possibly the link in all this, was not known and it is easy in hindsight to be critical.

Viral - viruses can only be fought by your body. Antibiotics etc fight bacteria, but you need to develop your own immunity to viruses.

What is sad is the fact that they did not keep them in due to a lack of fluids intake, which is critical for your body to survive never mind fight off a virus.

If you think a 30min wait for treatment is bad, come to the UK on a Friday and Saturday, where you could be there for 4 or 5 hours before you get beyond reception.
15:18 November 2, 2009 by karex
I ended up in the emergency room once with a case of thrombosis (though I didn't know it at the time, just felt like I was dying). After waiting 2 hours I was told that I had to book an apointment, that I couldn't just "show up" - in an EMERGENCY ROOM?!!?

I was told to go to the "Vård Central" to get an appointment and come back. Which I had to do. When I got there the nurse said that the Dr. doesn't work on Sundays, that I should come back on Monday, or go to the emergency room... I could barely stand by then , much less shuffle around town like that. I went home and prayed that I would survive the night.

Lesson learned: a serious illness in Sweden = a death sentence...
15:46 November 2, 2009 by refugee
I am really Sad !
17:44 November 2, 2009 by fridayz
I am crying .......... They were absolutely careless with this child... they didn't diagnose his case correctly and on time and they are a children hospital goodness sake...

My child got high fever the other week and I called 1177, the answer was if she had the high fever for five days!!! then I had to call them back.... it means no Tami flue would have been able to reduce the symptoms since it was more than 48 hours of fever. Why they don't prescribe Tami flu for all patient with flu symptoms and high fever ?
19:19 November 2, 2009 by peropaco
The doctors are representative of the make up of the society. one out of two is a complete azz.
19:39 November 2, 2009 by believe
My thoughts are with the family. I as so sorry for their loss! I work in a hospital in the states. I am outraged that they were sent home the first time even after telling the doctors/nurses that their child had not been able to keep anything down for five days! The child must have been dehydrated, that a lone should have been enough to hospitalize him the first time. We have only seen children/adults dying in our hospital of the swine flu who have other underlying heath conditions. Most have been under the age of 24, and there has been less that five so far. I know that number will change. We can do nothing for this child now. I pray that in the future when a child comes into that hospital the first thing they better do is see the child has adequate hydration. I hope for all of you a healthy year.
19:51 November 2, 2009 by peropaco
And what about the doctor? He will just go home and stuff his mortesino face with more booz and snos.

@believe Shana Tova umetukah
20:05 November 2, 2009 by believe
@peropaco, Thank you!
22:58 November 2, 2009 by Caribbean guy/Swedish Gal
You guys should reread or translate the article on Aftonbladet and see that the first hospital that was visited by this family was not Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital.

But nevertheless my heart goes out to the parents
23:04 November 2, 2009 by localite
My heart goes out to the parents of this unfortunate child who had to face these murderers (not doctors) of Sweden.

This just shows that Sweden can talk about high technology and stuff...but when it comes to quick medical attention...they suck big time! The child had not eaten or taken any fluid for 5 days, how in the world was his body going to fight the virus? How does one become a doctor in Sweden? By telling their patients to go home and take rest, and the body will fight away the illness?

The picture should be clear to all living here: you get treated in Sweden only if you are on your deathbed and if you get lucky that the doc treating you is a quick thinker, you might live to tell your ordeal!

People, when you call 1177 asking for medical help, lie your way through when asked for how many days have you had the fever...it works! A food for thought!!
23:44 November 2, 2009 by Sam1
I think criticizing again and again will not solve the Issue we should all do something, maybe have a peaceful marsh or a strike. We all know that in Sweden this is how most doctors are, expect a German doc I met at Nynäshamn..Well this means most of the Swedish doctor are negliget, I needetan endoscopy for 8 months i have been waiting and the Swedish doctor was negligent and mistrusting, careless, mean, and NOT FUNNY..trying to be, We all should make a strike in central stockholm, lets decide a date!!!! when and we make peaceful strike with writen signs NON abusive please.. but meaningful..Lets do it!! all of us every one tell his friend and family we all gather there and attract the news and every one has an expereince to talk about for sure!!! Lets keep in touch here...the contact email is bluepearl@live.se we are all educated and all believe in justice lets get attention to get justice..this boys life should not go waste because in future our children will have same circumstances...if not death but suffering and handicap..like I went to doctor for lung infection and now my breathing has become weak and lungs got damaged because of no treatment I bought my treatment from another country...mail me for a date
09:23 November 3, 2009 by sebseb
You gotta read this: http://www.thehamsterwheelanalysis.com/2009/11/lies-damned-lies-and-statistics.html

Lies, damned lies and statistics

When someone dies of Swine flu and has underlying medical conditions, media say that person died of Swine flu. When someone who get the flu vaccine with underlying conditions, they say that person died because of the underlying medical conditions.

And people swallow it without any questioning.
14:54 November 3, 2009 by "green Swede"
BANED, nice post,my young kids have been sent home from the barnakuten a number of times with the advice keep them hydrated,my heart breaks for all members of this family,the hardest part is the feeling of helplessness,but now at the very least,everyone reading these posts,should at least voice their concern via e mail to any of the web addresses that you supplied,thanks
00:12 November 4, 2009 by steveb63
Words just cannot express how sad this is. My heart goes out to the family and the little boy.

I have read about cases in UK and Sweden, and expeience good medical care for my children in both counties. To be honest, I think it comes down to the individual doctor. If they are properly engaged and properly look at the risks then they usually come out with the right course of action.

5 days without food and water seems like one of those circumstances where any decent doctor would take the matter serious - but apparently not in all cases.

I believe the best advice is not to accept medical advice if you think it is not good enough. Ask for a second opinion. Confirm the basis of the decision. Ask how long you should wait before returning. Refuse to leave. Anything to get them properly engaged and to recognise that you are not going to take any old ill considered advice.
20:24 November 4, 2009 by karex

Good advice!

Here's another tip: call an ambulance. They can't ignore you when you come in with the ambulance.
03:50 November 21, 2009 by Tiago Goedert
I can imagine what the parents are feeling, because I also have a son 1 year old and he got the swine flu (as myself and my wife did). The way how the heath system is set in Sweden is ridiculous. For everything is water and rest. I wonder what they learn in the university...

When my son was burning in fever (6 days with 39,5oC), only drinking a bit of water a not eating anything, after 3 times in the hospital still they sent us back home saying it was a normal flu and they could not do anything... bullshit!! Even the test they didn't want to do... only after almost fighting with the doctor we managed to make the flu test and it was positive on our son.

It was a miracle my son got better after all this time without any attention from the hospital, only taking medication for fever and of course, water.

This conservative mind unfortunatelly will cost a lot of lifes with this flu.
Today's headlines
The Local List
12 Swedish words with just awesome literal translations
A filthy-minded lobster, i.e. a snuskhummer. Photo: Gorm Kallestad/NTB scanpix/TT

One of our favourite things about the Swedish language is its wonderful compound words, which range from being utterly bizarre to making perfect sense.

Rwandan genocide suspect held in Sweden
A memorial centre in Kigali, Rwanda. Photo: Ben Curtis/AP

A man has been arrested in Sweden suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide which claimed 800,000 lives.

Sweden can extend border controls, EU says
A police officer carrying out a check at Sweden's border with Denmark. Photo: Emil Langvad/TT

EU countries including Sweden should be granted permission to extend temporary border controls by a period of a further three months, the European Commission has decided.

Nobel Prizes
'I'd say he's arrogant but I'd be lying': Swedes on Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan performing in France. Photo: David Vincent/AP

Almost two weeks have passed since Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and he has yet to acknowledge the win. The Local asked Swedes what they think of the singer's silence.

Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast by thousands
A Swedish migration authority office in Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

The country has also slashed its prediction for 2017.

Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
jobs available