• Sweden's news in English

Swedish woman dies after ambulance no show

The Local · 1 Jun 2011, 11:26

Published: 01 Jun 2011 11:26 GMT+02:00

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The woman, who had fallen down in her home, contacted her home-help service through her security alarm. According to the nurse that was called out, she didn’t have any noticeable injuries but was experiencing difficulties urinating.

After being helped by the nurse with a catheter in the evening, one of the woman’s relatives phoned up again early in the morning on the following day, explaining that she still had problems peeing.

The woman was then advised to phone her nearest medical centre to have her complaint diagnosed. But the relatives saw that the woman was getting worse and phoned for an ambulance instead.

It wasn’t until the third attempt that she was taken seriously. After a while the relatives used the security alarm to find out why the ambulance had not arrived, but were told by staff there that they are not connected to SOS alarm, Sweden's emergency response service.

After not hearing anything more, the municipality security staff thought that the woman had been helped. At 10.32am they got a call from agitated ambulance personnel wondering why she hasn’t received any help.

The woman was by then in a critical condition.

According to her relatives she had deteriorated quickly during the morning. She died in hospital later the same afternoon.

The incident has now been reported to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) 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.

Story continues below…

According to the report, the woman’s case was being juggled between the municipality home security system, the home help service and SOS alarm. Why the ambulance took four calls to come out remains unclear.

Sweden's emergency response service SOS Alarm has recently been put under review by the health board following a man's death after he was refused an ambulance and a series of other recent cases deemed to endanger the welfare of patients.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:51 June 1, 2011 by karex
How many more have to die before someone does something about this situation?
13:09 June 1, 2011 by Streja
Why did the relative experience problems peeing?
14:26 June 1, 2011 by swedejane
Why not call a cab after it's clear you're dealing with incompetents?
15:06 June 1, 2011 by RationalG.
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
15:15 June 1, 2011 by Rick Methven
My mother in the UK gets someone around within 10 minutes if she hits that emergency button
15:41 June 1, 2011 by dtrocilo
What's wrong with the swedes? They are so extremely concerned that the poor wolves are going to hurt someone one of these days (and so they should shoot them all) but are seemingly undisturbed by sick, suffering people calls for help.

I would never call an ambulance. Would try a cab instead.
16:52 June 1, 2011 by just a question
call a cab, call a friend, call someone from your family, call your neighbor...but don't call the ambulance!
17:17 June 1, 2011 by stateohio905
@just a question

....But pay for it and be quite....
17:59 June 1, 2011 by StuartM
I sure hope I don't need an ambulance when I'm in Sweden because I've got absolutely no confidence that one would turn up after all the cases like this. That's what happens though when our most basic and fundamental public services are sold off to whoever's willing to do them for the lowest possible price. When will the right wing ideologues in power realise that privatisation's been a failure and bring our services back under democratic public scrutiny and control?
18:54 June 1, 2011 by soultraveler3
How many times is this going to have to happen before someone stops it???? It's getting to be a weekly story and there's absolutely no excuse for it. It's disgusting that no one in charge seems to give a sh#t.

In the states if you call someone is there within 10 minutes unless you're way out in the country. They're also required to send someone around when called. That's how it should be.
19:43 June 1, 2011 by Species125
Socialstyrelsen expects a serious shortage of more than 4000 physicians (especially specialists) and 5000 nurses within a few years (Dagens Nyheter 2011).

Sweden's health care system is increasingly dominated by authoritarian management with focus exclusively on the organization and the budget… and characterized by a complete indifference toward the content of the care delivered, as well as toward the patients (Dr. Magnus Nordlund, Göteborg Post 2009).

The health care system is strained, especially in primary care… For many years the politicians have deliberately refrained from putting more resources into primary care, despite that it is a cost efficient way to provide good health care. For this reason, it has become increasingly difficult to recruit new, young physicians to clinics where their future colleagues are already staggering under their workload (Dr. Eva Bagenhielm of the Swedish Medical Association, Dagens Nyheter 2009).

In 2009, Karolinska cut away 900 employees due to budget shortfalls, on top of years of relentless budget and staff cuts (Aftonbladet 2009).

Etc, etc. etc.
21:59 June 1, 2011 by jacquelinee
You don't really expect them to end their fika just because someone needs an ambulance? Wait until next month when someone calls for help and gets the response. "Vänta.Vänta! Det är juli du vet!"
22:11 June 1, 2011 by dizzymoe33
It is such a tragedy that this continues to happen to people. It is like we always say here how many people have to die before someone wakes up and realizes they to change things?
23:34 June 1, 2011 by krrodman

Very well said.

I would like to add the following:

The bureaucrats who design medical budgets fail to understand the simplest and most basic economic truth about health care: If doctors are successful and patients live longer despite their multiple medical problems, health care costs must rise dramatically simply because every patient, every year, will have more medical problems that will need to be managed.

Or put differently, the most direct way to control medical costs is to reduce care to the elderly.

01:50 June 2, 2011 by cattie
If public policy has allowed privatisation. Therefore in order to have a functioning infrastructure the private firms must suffer consequences with TEETH for negligence. Laws must be enacted for it to be unprofitable for private firms subcontracted for public services to fail to perform their contracted duties.

Punitive damages in cases of negligence would quickly get these firm jumping to to their jobs.
08:21 June 2, 2011 by Zhorka
typisk svensk
09:06 June 2, 2011 by Smartone
It's really terrible that Ambulance does not arrive. It's the 2nd time death recently because of poor service, untrained, uncooperative and inhumane staff. How many peoples have to loose their lives before Swedish government take a serious notice of this critical problem?

''This question would remain unanswered unless the victim's families pursue them in the court of law.''

Fire those cold hearted and hire those willing to serve humanity not end human beings!

One who saves life of a human saves humanity should be motto of all medical staff.
11:47 June 2, 2011 by PoJo
What the f...?

I read these stories so often now, that I am really getting worried. I have experienced something like this when I once called the police and they told me they were too busy, so they will see what they can do...

But when it comes to health care, the ambulance should get there in a blink, are they kidding me?
12:00 June 2, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Ladies and gentlemen! If you think you live in a first world country you are deadly wrong. I believe that all this stories I have read about people dying because of ambulances noo showing or becaus nincompoops not believing that someone need inmediate attention is something made on purpose to get rid of some population. By doing this, the burocrats paid by everybody's taxes, will keep on having their coffee breaks without being molested. Welcome to Mickey Mouse land where Kafka would be just another Astrid Lindgren waiting for a Nobel Prize for a similar brat like Pipi Longstrumpan.
23:23 June 2, 2011 by Da Goat
You lot are just being silly, you should know better the ambulances were much too busy picking up small crying children and people with bruised ego's, they have no time for people who are actually dying, that would mess up there record of successful saves and there statistics would look very poor then.
23:29 June 2, 2011 by philster61
Sounds like she had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin anyway.....
09:23 June 4, 2011 by Triple Play
If it is a Dog or a Cat the Ambulance comes earlier then the expected time.

Who agree with me?
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