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Sweden 'swamped' by malpractice complaints

TT/The Local/dl · 7 Mar 2011, 10:34

Published: 07 Mar 2011 10:34 GMT+01:00

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Since January 1st, Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) has had primary responsibility for processing and addressing complaints filed by patients about the treatment they received in the Swedish healthcare system.

In Stockholm County, the number of serious written complaints has increased by 80 percent in the last five years, with one in three complaints touching on emergency care.

"It stems from an increased workload in emergency care and that there aren't enough available spots," Staffan Blom, head of the Patients' Advisory Committee (Patientnämnden) with the Stockholm County Council, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

Previously, complaints were sent to the Medical Responsibility Board (Hälso- och sjukvårdens ansvarsnämnd – HSAN), which would then review the complaint before deciding what action to take.

Possible penalties included official warnings, probation, or the withdrawal of a doctor's licence.

As part of the transition under the new law, the National Board of Health and Welfare inherited roughly 2,300 cases which HSAN was unable to process.

Since the start of the year, 700 new complaints have come in.

"There's been a bit of a stop in our production line, but now we've got things going again," said Helene Dahl Fransson, a section head with the health board, told SvD.

She added that processing the cases will likely take longer under the new law, which includes more rigorous standards for judging a complaint's merits.

Among the 3,000 unheard patient complaints are roughly 15 to 20 from 2009 which still have yet to be assessed, something which Dahl Fransson admitted isn't helpful for boosting patient safety.

Synnöve Ödegård, a researcher at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, calls the growing pile of unaddressed patient complaints "very unfortunate".

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"It's frustrating for patients who think they've received the wrong treatment," she told the newspaper.

She added that the number of people who have been harmed in the Swedish healthcare system is "unacceptably high".

"If the complaints aren't analysed then the problems remain and that's negative for patient safety," she said.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

15:11 March 7, 2011 by Rolf100
It sounds like "good Swedish health care" is an oxymoron!
16:33 March 7, 2011 by VicTaulic
Just ignore all those complaints from foreign "Swedes" and immigrants, and you will eliminate 95 percent of complaints.
18:05 March 7, 2011 by mikewhite
I heard that doctors here were low paid compared with other EU countries ... relevant ?
21:05 March 7, 2011 by Onepack
The Lund University Hospital should be closed until it fixes the major problem: The food there is horrible! Someone should investigate. Áren't hospitals supposed to help patients get better? This food will makes patients sicker! Shame on the administration of this hospital... and I'll bet you nothing ever gets done to fix the problem... such is the state of Sweden's medical system... third world at best.
01:36 March 8, 2011 by OnessOfMankind
As long as the government want to copy USA and decrease fund to hospitals,

Doctors will always be oblivious to peoples pain, ignore them, deprive them of right medical care, insult them, and try their best to decrease the bill not reduce the pain and disease...

Which makes it more stupid because treating the problem and taking MRI which they try not to, Xrays, meeting specialist will ofcourse cost less than an aggrevated problem.
15:14 March 8, 2011 by laura ka baal
@Vic Taulic

Congratulation! the first person to accept 95% of immigrants are ignored and not treated properly, thats great still people exiat in sweden because of people like you immigants are breathing.
14:42 March 9, 2011 by mieoux
Actually US has a much higher standard of health care and of dealing with patient complaints than Sweden. There is a reason it's famous for lawsuits - things get dealt with. The problem with US health care is that not everyone can afford it. Otherwise if you can the care is exceptional.

Some things happen in Swedish hospitals that make you think you are in a third world country. In fact coming from US and having to deal with health care in Swedish - it's just appalling, even Britain is not this bad and Britain is technically already a third world country.

US is much much better than Sweden in many ways and Swedes should not try to compare themselves to the US. US just has that much more resources than Sweden could ever hope to have.

Do you want to make things better in Sweden or do you just want to fight with immigrants? Trust me, those immigrants who are complaining are doing you a huge favor. Swedish health care is at an extremely low standard. These immigrants who are complaining know it can be made better.
21:50 March 16, 2011 by LaGSA
For many years I've been defending the Swedish health care system. However, due to recent events, I've to agree with many comments found here. The system here is below European standards! Difficult to find a doctor willing to talk, useless vårdcentral and ambulances. And of course, I belong to the 95% of the immigrant :-)

Now I'm looking for a lawyer, that I cannot find, to sue the ambulance service here in Skåne. When I talk about this in the hospital, I was told that I cannot do that :-| We will see.

I've friends that still prefer to go back to the home country for health care: now I understand them. Sad bad true.
02:22 May 24, 2011 by pacman666
If you want toi get healthcare on the cheap it will not be very good quality. You get what you pay for. And when it comes to Swedish healthcare the government is not going to pay for it to be very high quality.
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