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Health officials sent letters to dead children

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08:00 CET+01:00
Nearly 300 sets of parents in western Sweden received letters addressed to their dead children from regional health authorities in Västra Götaland.

The letters were sent last week to around 100,000 households with children under seven-years-old reminding them to indicate their preference for a local paediatric clinic.

But due to a computer error, the forms for choosing a clinic were also sent to parents of around 300 children who had died.

“I was just dumbfounded. I was really frustrated,” Mattias Hansson, the father of a boy who died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in 2006, told the Göteborgs-Posten (GP) newspaper.

Hans Johansson, head of the Västra Götaland region's implementation office, which is responsible for sending the letters as part of efforts to introduce more choice into the area healthcare system, blamed the mix up on a computer programming error.

He explained that the database from which the addresses were drawn includes all the region's residents, regardless of whether they are alive or not.

“We missed it,” he told GP.

While Hansson and his wife Eleonor feel they have come a long way in coping with the death of their son, he thinks that health officials ought to do more to apologize for the mistake.

“How is it for all those, perhaps singles, who just lost their only child? It's careless of those responsible not to make contact with them. The least they could do is call, explain, and apologize,” Eleonor told the newspaper.

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