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Ambulance call denied: woman 'was still talking'

The Local/dl · 14 Jun 2011, 11:43

Published: 14 Jun 2011 11:43 GMT+02:00

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"She was having trouble breathing. She was instructed to call the healthcare information hotline and there they thought she sounded irritated," the young woman's mother told the local Sundsvalls Tidningen.

Following her daughter's death, the mother has had the transcripts of her daughter's conversations with emergency service operator SOS Alarm read to her.

The mother told the newspaper that healthcare representatives have since told her that her daughter's first call for an ambulance was denied because she "was still communicating verbally".

"That's totally insane. If you can't communicate verbally, you can't call for an ambulance anyway," another close relative told the newspaper.

During the woman's first call, she complained that she had had a fever, chills, and aches for an entire week.

By the third call, she had a friend on hand in hopes of convincing emergency call operators to send an ambulance so she could get to hospital.

Her final call for an ambulance came at 1am on January 20th. A few hours later, she was dead.

Relatives explained that the woman had had trouble with addiction in the past and at the time of the calls had been suffering from flu-like symptoms following a bout with stomach problems.

However, they say there was no indication that the woman had any intention of taking her own life.

According to SOS Alarm, the incident is under investigation.

"We take this with the utmost seriousness, but we haven't come to any conclusion yet," SOS Alarm spokesperson Anders Klarström told Sundvalls Tidningen.

The woman's family plans to report the incident to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) and is convinced that mistakes were made.

"The entire chain broke down in every possible way," said the woman's mother.

Story continues below…

In a statement issued to The Local on Tuesday, SOS Alarm's Klarström explained that, according to an internal investigation into the incident, the company's operators acted "completely in accordance with instructions" laid out in a contract between SOS Alarm and Västernorrland County health authorities.

According to Klarström, attempts were made to connect the woman to healthcare professionals with a higher level of expertise available from nurses employed by the county in order to make a better assessment of her needs.

"At SOS Alarm, there were no deviations or any basis for a so-called Lex Maria-report in this case," he said in a statement, referring to the informal name used to refer to regulations governing the reporting of injuries or incidents in the Swedish health care system.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:02 June 14, 2011 by Brtahan
What the hell is going on here in sweden!!! as if they going to do anything if they complain to socialstyrelsen, these fools working there will not do anything , iwant to see what happened with the previous case which happened before few months did anybody go to jail!!! their daugther is already dead , minutes counts...Reduce tax and soon the ambulance wont have petrol to drive to the sick.
12:34 June 14, 2011 by farnoxo
"her daughter's first call for an ambulance was denied because she "was still communicating verbally"" - also called Catch-22.

Sick person (SP) - "I desperately need an ambulance"

Ambulance call centre (ACC) - "I am sorry, we cannot send an ambuylance because you are still able to communicate verbally"

SP - "So when can I call an ambulance"

ACC - "When you are no longer able to communicate verbally"

SP - "So if I am unable to commnicate, how can I call an ambulance?"

ACC - " Call 112 and ask for an ambulance"

SP - "But how can I do this if I am no longer able to communicate verbally"

ACC - "If you are verbally-imparied, you can call our Support Centre for verbally-impaired sick people"
13:47 June 14, 2011 by BillyB
Obviously a terrible tragedy and condolences to the family.

but if you were trying to get an ambulance for four days wouldnt you have tried something else? called doctor, go to emergency room...no family or friends available to help someone get to hospital?

Seems to be two issues here, the first why no ambulance was sent, and second why on earth did no one help her though Sweden was a welfare country which looks after people?
14:01 June 14, 2011 by Species125
"As a result of years of budget cuts, there remain only three emergency rooms in Västernorrland, and that number could soon be cut to two… In response to the new dire fiscal report from the county, three former hospital administrators seriously proposed that the county close one of the three remaining ERs…" (Sundvalls Tidning 1/19/2010 / S. Larson, Remaking America)

Västernorrland: 21,678 km2 (8,369.9 sq mi) / population 249,299

"…the same county [Västernorrland] fired 21% of the medical staff at the hospital where ambulances would be going…" (Aftonbladet 9/5/2009 / S. Larson, Remaking America)

(Fyi… "Skåne has reduced the number of emergency rooms in the county from eight to four. Cities with as many as 38,000 residents no longer have a local ER. In some towns with 20,000 residents, ambulances have to drive up to 45 miles [72 km] to the nearest ER." (Sydsvenska Dagbladet 3/10/2010 / S. Larson, Remaking America))

"…Då är möjligheterna till att kunna landa och lyfta med ambulansflygplan från regionens flygplatser en nödvändighet dygnet runt, fortsätter Kent Ögren.

I dag är det inte alltid så. Landstingen i Norrbotten, Västerbotten, Västernorrland och Jämtland har, tillsammans med SOS Alarm som sköter dirigeringen av ambulansflygplanen, noterat att det under de senaste två åren blivit all svårare att kunna öppna regionens flygplatser för akuta flygambulanstransporter på kvällar, nätter och helger..."


And of course in 2010 (in further regard to budget problems), The Local ran a story about rationing of coffee and milk in a nursing home in a town in Västernorrland... "Swedish nursing home introduces coffee rationing"

Etc, etc, etc.
14:13 June 14, 2011 by RationalG.
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
14:24 June 14, 2011 by Mak81
well when the rulers have only one priority i.e money then nothing good comes out of it.

If you witness all the crimes around you that are taking place the cause is money. Good to see that the swedish economy is improving i wonder how much more human lives fuel will it consume in the name of saving money.

Can only wait and see..
18:37 June 14, 2011 by kenny8076
oh sweet soooooo THIS is that great "free" healthcare system these people brag about.......seems every time i come to this site someone dies from being denied an ambulance, sounds a little third world to me.... But you get what you pay for!!
19:24 June 14, 2011 by infidel2012
Yep, there is a clear case for lawsuit here, I hope the family finds a really good lawyer to sue the pants of these bozos.

Maybe then they'll get the message : )
21:03 June 14, 2011 by Mrs Hina
They r crazy..I called once when i was expecting my first baby and i had real bad labor pains that due to which i vomit and fainted..my hubby was one hr distance..I called them for ambulance and they refused to come and gave me reason that we will just come if ur water breaks or u have already delivered your baby at home:S
23:05 June 14, 2011 by Species125
@ infidel - Can there be a lawsuit? I was under the impression that Swedish medical personnel could freely butcher, maim, physically and mentally abuse, torture, kill, etc. whomever without consequence. Seriously.

@mrs hina - I'm very sorry to hear how you were treated. You're not alone. :(
07:56 June 15, 2011 by Kemi
This is really very sad. Just goes to show that one can't rely totally on the system.

My father-in-law died of cancer a few years back. It took 3 months after his first visit to the doctor's for them to come to the diagnosis and they said it was operable. But it dragged on for another several months because various doctors were on vacation. By the time he had his appointment the cancer had spread…

I was very puzzled during the process by the passiveness and undemandingness of the family. If it were for me to decide, I would have been constantly after someone until they give me a satisfactory answer. So since then I've adopted the attitude of keep calling until getting an appointment when someone around me needs medical attention or show up directly at the emergencies. I try to read about the condition and ask questions. I figure if the system is cutting back cost, someone's gonna get the shorter end of the stick and it better not be someone dear to me.

But I guess things are quite different up in the north… Someone(s) should lose their jobs for this, but chances are no one would.
08:53 June 15, 2011 by flintis
@Billyb: A tragedy??? No it's not a tragedy, it isincompetence, utter negligence , total disregard for human life & lack of empathy.

About time something was done about it, cancellation of their contract & prosecution.
11:04 June 15, 2011 by cattie
To those in other countries who think that the law can be enforced in Sweden through lawsuits need to think again.

Although lawsuits are possible in Sweden they are not profitable. There is no "suing the pant off" of anyone because there are no punitive damages, only actual damages. Therefore a person must either hire and expensive lawyer per hour or apply to get a lawyer appointed to the case.

Obviously, there is a case here, however the damages will be small since the person who died was an addict, so it will be argued that death was possible in any case. If the deceased was unemployed the damages would be lower still, since there is no loss of income. Actual damages might be low, say in the tens of thousands of kronor. (several thousand Euro)

When I lived in USA, I was in favor of tort reform because of the abuses with punitive damages and people winning the "lawsuit lottery". In Sweden, I have seen many such cases with "little people" have few recourses since they cannot afford a lawyer and lawyers do not work on contingincy. Companies know that individuals have few recourses in cases of negligence and abuse the situation.

I have seen the wisdom of another arm of law enforcement called punitive damages. While it is extreme in america, perhaps a modified "punitive damages lite" could help some organizations whip themselves into shape. However, as long as health care is primarily a government service, I doubt this will ever happen as punitive damages would expose the Landsting (County Councils) to far too much liability.
15:01 June 15, 2011 by soultraveler3
How many people have to die? How many times must we read about this?

They're already saying that the phone operator followed instructions so yet again no one will pay for this. It's so sick and nobody seems to give a sh#t.

There's a story like this on a weekly basis now. How the hell has this been allowed to continue??
01:40 June 16, 2011 by RHO1953
This is the wonderfual socialist medicine which so many people want to bring to the US. No thank you. In our horribly primitive system (according to the lovers of socialist medicine) if I call for an ambulance, it will be here in a matter of minutes. Nobody screens the need for an ambulance here. It comes out as a precaution, no matter what.
10:51 June 16, 2011 by InTheBubble
There have been terrible changes in Sweden in the last 40 years. I spent three months in Stockholm in 1970. It was an idyllic time as Sweden seemed to be a dreamland. There was no graffiti, seemingly no crime, and you could walk across the whole city at 4am in total safety. A Swedish friend became sick one day, a Sunday, with symptoms of appendicitis, so I called the emergency number for her. Within 20 minutes a VERY professional doctor arrived. He spent an hour with her and then prescribed some medicine. He then charged her about $5 for the visit. I took the subway to the city center 24/7 pharmacy and paid about $3 for the drugs. It was a very comforting experience, and my friend soon got well.

Now we have this ambulance fiasco and the fiscal hell that has brought it about, not to mention the ongoing theft of children from their parents for the capital crime of home schooling. I'm sure there is plenty of graffiti now too and certainly crime enough to scare someone from walking about at 4am.

In the USA in the last 40 years we have witnessed an enormous influx of illegals from the south, all taking jobs, welfare, and health care at great cost to the citizens. They have brought with them the crime, diseases, and graffiti we all must live with now along with a broken economy from supporting these 30 million unwelcome visitors.

I've seen the same problems slowly develop in London and Paris and Zurich and elsewhere in Europe, all due to the non-stop influx of non-European peoples - the same process that was occurring in the USA at the same time. I believe Sweden is suffering from the same malady. The solution is obvious, but, unfortunately, many would think it also odious, so these people shall remain, increasing in number at an accelerating rate until whole countries fall apart and turn into 3rd world disasters. There is no stopping it. Legitimate citizens can only enjoy what is left of their previously wonderful countries as they dissolve in front of them. The future is grim indeed. And all this because of a few soft hearts and a large number of greedy ones. We thought for years we'd all be going out with a bang, but it seems now that it will be with a whimper. How very sad.
15:14 June 16, 2011 by judgejack
Comment: It is sad to hear these stories of a country that I have loved and admired for so long suffering under this Machiavellian rule. (Being Machiavellian need not imply cruelty, hostility, or manipulation for its own sake. Rather, the Machiavellian is willing to be so, without the burden of external standards of virtue to achieve legitimate goals) They claim to be "Humanist" but lack all human traits of care and consideration for people. Secondly, what are these rulers doing about increasing the prosperity of Sweden so that there is money for the needed services? Other Arctic nations are seeking oil above the Arctic Circle. How long can these poor living conditions go on?
22:23 June 16, 2011 by JanineC
That is your socialized medicine for you... What else would you expect?
23:19 June 16, 2011 by Species125
Hund fast på tak

Stockholm 16 jun 19:40

Polisen har fått ett 112-samtal från en boende på Gästrikegatan som sett hur en hund hoppat ut från ett fönster till en vindslägenhet och står nu på taket och kan inte ta sig därifrån.

En patrull är på väg dit för att se vad de kan göra åt händelsen.

Kl 19:32 kallas brandkåren till platsen.
15:29 June 17, 2011 by tadchem
This is "Catch 22" all over again. If you are really sick, call the emergency hotline, but if you can talk to the emergency hotline, you must not be really sick.

The emergency operators should know that fever and chills are characteristic of infections, which can always become life-threatening.
17:16 June 17, 2011 by Britt-Marie7
This is unacceptable, but swedes need to start suing over this kind of pure neglect, or it will never change. Money talks!

Also, the people who work the phones need to be fired, they are obviously not doing their job.
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