Hospital demands probe of Anna Lindh’s care

Hospital demands probe of Anna Lindh's care
Karolinska University Hospital has requested an inquiry into the care it gave former foreign minister Anna Lindh after her fatal stabbing in September 2003.

The hospital wants Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to review the treatment Lindh received at the hospital after she was stabbed in a Stockholm department store.

Lindh died on the operating table at Karolinska’s facilities in Solna, north of Stockolm.

The hospital has reviewed charts detailing Lindh’s treatment and doesn’t believe that any mistakes were made, but nevertheless has requested that the health board conduct an independent investigation.

The reason behind the request is a forthcoming television broadcast produced by Sweden’s TV4 which, according to Karolinska, asserts that Lindh didn’t receive proper care at the hospital.

“Because the episode has such great national and historic significance, it’s important to prevent the spread of rumours surrounding this matter. We believe it’s appropriate that the National Board of Health and Welfare carry out an investigation into the care of Anna Lindh,” wrote Karolinska University Hospital in its petition, which arrived on Wednesday at the agency’s regional oversight division in Stockholm.

Lindh was attacked and stabbed while shopping in the upscale NK department store in central Stockholm around 4pm local time on September 10th, 2003.

She remained conscious following the attack, with initial reports indicating she had been cut in the arm and that she wasn’t seriously injured.

She was taken to Karolinska, where she was placed on an operating table so doctors could attend to her wounds.

Lindh died at 5.29am the following morning following massive blood loss caused by internal bleeding.

The knife had sliced through a number of important blood vessels in her mid-section, including the portal vein and the aorta. Lindh’s liver had also been damaged.

Two weeks later, on September 24th, 24-year-old Mijailo Mijailovic was arrested for the stabbing. The Supreme Court sentenced him to life in prison for Lindh’s murder on December 2nd, 2004.

Among the evidence cited during the trial were images from surveillance cameras in NK, as well as his DNA.

Karolinska Chief Medical Officer Stefan Engqvist said that the information, which the hospital attributes to the TV4 investigative news programme Kalla Fakta, is hard to address publicly, in part because he doesn’t really know what the criticism is based on and in part because the hospital doesn’t release information from Lindh’s file.

“Our position becomes a bit awkward in this situation. We have tough regulations about confidentiality and laws on secrecy that we can’t break,” he told the TT news agency.

He said that Sweden’s emergency trauma care has evolved since 2003, but that according to procedures commonly used at the time, the hospital reacted in the best possible way in the operating room and that everyone involved did everything they could to save the foreign minister’s life.

“We’ve gone through all the documentation ourselves and haven’t found anything wrong and nothing that would warrant a report according to Lex Maria,” said Engqvist, referencing Sweden’s Lex Maria laws, the informal name used to refer to regulations governing the reporting of injuries or incidents in the Swedish health care system.

“But we would also gladly have an independent investigation and for that we turn to the National Board of health and Welfare. We want to avoid the spreading of rumours.”

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