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Ambulance call denied: woman 'was still talking'

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Ambulance call denied: woman 'was still talking'
11:43 CEST+02:00
A woman from northern Sweden died after four calls placed over a four day period requesting to have an ambulance sent to her home in Timrå were ignored.

"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.

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.

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