SOS service under review after ambulance errors

Sweden's emergency response service SOS Alarm has been put under review by the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

SOS service under review after ambulance errors

The board has acted to review SOS Alarm’s ambulance prioritising after a man died after having been refused an ambulance.

A further five cases will be reviewed in which the refusal or delay of an ambulance has meant that patients were unnecessarily endangered.

“We can conclude that it is a very risky business. It is a question of life and death if you are not prioritised or don’t get help in time. Then of course in this type of operation you can’t expect to get an priority one ambulance within five minutes all over Sweden, but you can demand that the operation learns from these incidents,” said Maria Carlund at the board to the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

In Gothenburg last year a woman died from renal failure and pneumonia after having been refused an ambulance the day before. In April 23-year-old Emil Linnell died of a ruptured spleen after being refused an ambulance.

As a result of the case, which gained a great deal of attention in the media at the time, SOS Alarm reported the case to the health board in accordance with Sweden’s Lex Maria, the informal name used to refer to regulations governing the reporting of injuries or incidents in the Swedish health care system.

A further case involves a man who was told to buy cough medicine while he was in fact suffering from a heart attack at the time, SvD reported.

All of the cases concern incidents where the patients have been either refused an ambulance or have had to wait to long that they have either died or sustained permanent injury as a result.

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Sweden to stop calling transgender people ‘mentally ill’

Transgender people will no longer be classified as “mentally ill” in Sweden, the country’s main national health authority has announced, in a decision widely criticised as overdue.

Sweden to stop calling transgender people 'mentally ill'
An archive picture of Swedes protesting against classifying transgender people as mentally ill. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
Sweden’s National Board of Health and Welfare, or Socialstyrelsen, announced late on Friday that it would no longer automatically apply the diagnosis “gender dysphoria” to transgender patients.
“…more than anything, this change has an important symbolic value,” Kristina Bränd Persson, the organisation’s head, said in a press release. “This is a completely reasonable change. Many divisions and categories are obsolete. For us, the decision is uncontroversial. We tend to follow the changes the WHO makes.” 
The decision was widely ridiculed on Twitter.  
“At fucking bloody last!” tweeted Leo Ringqvist. “We are not ill, most of all mentally.”  

“Wake me! Is it 2017 or 1817,” complained Ewa-Maria Åström. 

The move follows a decision made by the World Health Organisation in October to remove the transsexualism classification from the chapter on mental illness in its diagnostic guide.  
“This is welcome but no surprise,” said Frida Sandegård, chairperson of RFSL, which lobbies for the rights of gay, bisexual and transgender people.  
Transgender people have complained of receiving unwelcome questions and stigmatising treatment when dealing with health professionals in Sweden. 
The agency said the change would not take place immediately, as it would first have to incorporate the decision into its own national version of ICD-10, the latest disease classification manual issued by the WHO. 
The work is expected to be completed this year.