Man died due to doc’s poor Swedish skills

A doctor's sub-par Swedish languages skills likely played a role in the death of a 66-year-old man in western Sweden, the country's health board has ruled.

Man died due to doc's poor Swedish skills

A clinic in Värmland in western Sweden has been criticised by the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) after the man died of a heart attack just days after making two visits to clinic.

During the man’s first visit to the clinic he complained of excruciating pain in his arms which was also radiating to his head and neck, the local Värmlands Folkblad reported.

The doctor diagnosed the man as suffering from muscle pain and prescribed muscle relaxers to help alleviate the ache.

The man returned the next day, this time hearing from the doctor that he should also take pain killers.

Two days later, the man was found dead at his home following a fatal heart attack, after which the case was reported to the health board.

Subsequent investigations by county health authorities as well as the health board revealed that the doctor who treated the 66-year-old had limited Swedish language skills and likely misunderstood the severity of the man’s condition and the exact nature of his pain.

An EKG was never ordered and blood tests weren’t performed, nor did the doctor reassess his diagnosis on the occasion of the man’s second visit to the clinic.

The fact that the doctor refused to participate in a telephone interview during the investigation because he had a hard time communicating in Sweden was cited by the health board as evidence that the doctor lacked sufficiently strong Swedish language skills.

Following the incident, county health authorities have promised to develop an action plan to ensure similar incidents don’t occur in the future.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.