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Nurse charged over ambulance call fatality

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Nurse charged over ambulance call fatality
13:25 CEST+02:00
A nurse formerly employed at emergency services operator SOS Alarm has been charged with aggravated manslaughter for refusing to dispatch an ambulance to a dying 23-year-old, the prosecutor has confirmed.

The case dates back to the early hours of January 30th this year when the Stockholm man called SOS Alarm, a company operating emergency response services in several counties in Sweden, repeatedly and asked for an ambulance.

He had been experiencing difficulty breathing and had lost consciousness several times while he spoke with the nurse on the phone.

But the nurse adjudged that the symptoms did not sound serious enough, so no ambulance was dispatched.

The 23-year-old man was suffering from a ruptured spleen, a condition that requires emergency care, the prosecutor concluded.

A ruptured spleen causes breathing problems and affects circulation to the extent that it can cause a loss of consciousness, you feel pain and heavy anxiety.

The man rang SOS Alarm twice in the course of 13 minutes and related the symptoms which he was experiencing.

The prosecutor argued that the situation constituted an emergency and that an ambulance should have been dispatched without the highest priority. That no ambulance was sent, led directly to the man's death.

The crime is classified as "aggravated" as the prosecutor considers the offence to be a "conscious risk-taking of a serious nature".

The nurse has since been fired from his position and in April, after the story had received a great deal of media attention, the 23-year-old's family reported the matter to the police.

The nurse had at least ten years experience and had worked for SOS Alarm for just over a year. Over the course of his employment the company had received a total of three complaints from callers regarding his performance.

SOS Alarm responded to the publicity of the case by referring the matter 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.

The firm however lays the blame for the incident solely with its former employee.

The company's CEO, Johan Hedensjö, has previously argued that routines were not adhered to and that an ambulance should have been dispatched at an earlier stage.

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