“The National Board of Health and Welfare will probe the care of former foreign minister Anna Lindh,” the board said in a statement.
It pointed out that it did not normally re-examine cases older than two years, but that it would make an exception due to the huge public interest in the case.
“The case is of great public interest and has to do with how care worked in a situation where the foreign minister was the victim of an attack,” board general director Lars-Erik Holm said in the statement.
“I have turned to the other general directors of corresponding authorities in the Nordic countries to get their help in appointing experts,” he added.
Stockholm’s Karolinska University Hospital last month requested that the board analyse Lindh’s treatment, saying it wanted an independent review after commercial broadcast TV4 charged in a news programme that she may have been saved with better care.
Hospital spokesman Klas Österman insisted at the time, “We have not seen any signs, then or now, to indicate that we made any mistakes.”
Lindh was stabbed repeatedly in the arms, chest and abdomen by a man with a history of psychiatric problems as she shopped at the upmarket NK department store in Stockholm without a bodyguard on September 10th, 2003. She died of massive internal bleeding some 13 hours later in the early hours of September 11th.
The board’s decision comes three days after the broadcast of TV4’s “Cold Facts” (Kalla Fakta) programme on Lindh’s treatment.
The half-hour show featured a detailed presentation of the treatment she received from the moment she arrived at the hospital, through an eight-hour operation during which she received up to 50 litres of blood, until she was pronounced dead at 5.29am on September 11th.
An unnamed Swedish expert, whose face was blurred onscreen, said the hospital could have used better methods to stop the minister’s bleeding from the abdomen, notably by using the so-called “damage control” operation method.
The programme also interviewed Dr. Donald Trunkey, an expert trauma surgeon at Oregon’s Health and Science University, who described the rush to operate Lindh without first slowing the bleeding “futile.”
“In the United States, if somebody did that in my hospital, I would call [such an eight-hour operation] foolhardy. I mean, you are not going to win,” he said, adding the lengthy operation may have worsend her condition.
“I would have classified her as a preventable death,” he said.
Eva Franchell, who was shopping with Lindh when she was attacked, said she was pleased an investigation would be launched.
“It opens up old wounds, of course, but I feel the rumours that have been spread around have been very unpleasant. That is why I think it is good that this can all be ended,” she told the TT news agency.
Lindh’s killer Mijailo Mijailovic, now 32, is serving a life sentence for the murder.
The killing of the 46-year-old mother of two young boys sent a shock wave around Sweden, bringing back painful memories of the still-unsolved 1986 assassination of prime minister Olof Palme.