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Patient deaths prompt Swedish healthcare audit

TT/Joel Linde · 29 Oct 2011, 15:36

Published: 29 Oct 2011 15:36 GMT+02:00

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The Local reported in September on a case where 22-year-old Jill Söderberg died in her apartment after calling emergency service SOS Alarm three times, without getting help.

The report in DN also mentions a case where a 23-year-old man died in his apartment after being denied an ambulance.

“There are indications that care isn’t given on equal terms,” Gudrun Antemar at the Swedish National Audit Office (Riksrevisionen) told Dagens Nyheter.

“Also that patient safety could have been better, and signs that our health care is fragmented.”

Antemar recently signed decisions to allow pre-studies to examine both the ambulance care, and the program for shortening health care waiting time - Kömiljarden - which together with the "Vårdgarantin" (literally: care guarantee), is intended to ensure care for people within a certain time period.

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The audit is meant to examine if ambulance care is given to those in need, and also if the implemented programmes have served their purpose.

Antemar told the paper that she will be examining how the healthcare system is being run over a number of years, to highlight any issues and hopefully be able to recommend improvements.

TT/Joel Linde (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:49 October 29, 2011 by Kevin Walker
The Problem with the health service is ,it is good if you can get it.Its getting it which is the problem.

I mean ,when you phone up to try and get a Doctors time.The first thing is they have to phone you back,and you can not go down to vårdcentral and book a time ,no you must go home and book a time(Pathetic)And then when the nurse rings you,You must make out

that you are much sicker,or they will say ,No times for atleast 2-3 weeks.

This is what it is like in upplands-bro.I do not know if the system is so bad all over Sweden.

The health service is supposed to be bad in the U.K,but atleast you can see a Doctor the same day.

Sweden should be ashamed to have this dibolical system.It feels like they do not care about their people.

If the problem is a shortage of Doctors,Then pay them decent wages ,So that they will stay in Sweden.Simple!
18:23 October 29, 2011 by karex
Things will only get fixed when government officials and politicians are forced to use the publich health system just like everyone else. I doubt that they do, but most likely use private services instead. I would love to see a report with the exact number of government officials and politicians who actually do rely on the public health care system... Same thing happened recently in Brazil: the former president (Socialist Party) became ill. Do you think he went to a public hospital like everyone else? Of course not, he doesn't trust what he himself created - he used private healthcare.

It's the old story: we are all equal, but some of us are more equal than others...
18:55 October 29, 2011 by pacfic
Yeah, That audit is a must-do. At once i felt that the health system of sweden is good only on the paper. It is hailed as long as one is not sick. But the waiting time, the analysis-paralysis of the docs is quite annoying. Waiting for weeks before the result from lab is out seems sluggish for countries as cool as sweden. good that the system is centralized and subsidized but i feel the service is way behind the standard. Just saying ;)
20:04 October 29, 2011 by Online Personality
The Headless Horseman walks into a Swedish clinic. He's holding his severed head in his hands. "What can you do?" he asks the doctor.

"Well," says the doctor. "You're obviously depressed. Take these circa 1950s antidepressants, and check back in a few months."

"But my head!" says the Horseman, blood congealed at his feet.

It reminds the doctor of the blood pudding he had for lunch. "Of course," says the doctor. "Let's wait and see how things are on your next visit. I'm out of time today."

Angered and without hope, the Horseman leaves, heads to ICA to find a pumpkin. What more can he do?

Before leaving for the day, the doctor writes that Mr. Horseman is a hypochondriac, worried over a paper cut. Then, "Do this, that, this, this, this, and that, and this, and that as well," he says to a nurse, before leaving to catch his flight to Thailand. What more can he do?
20:55 October 29, 2011 by StuartM
Fortunately I've not had to use the health service since I moved here but it sounds pretty awful. It just goes to show what happens when a government prioritises tax cuts over everything else. I hate Reinfeldt and Bildt so much, they're almost as bad as the scumbag Tory politicians I hoped I'd escaped from when I left Britain.
23:16 October 29, 2011 by dadu
My 70 year old mum has been in Skane for 2 months. She recently was unwell and was prompty taken to hospital..and after being diagnosed with very high blood pressure, she was released and asked to go to see her doctor. One BIG problem those famous last words. From clinic to clinic the marathon began -my mum and her Swedish partner begged for an appointment with a doctor - even to pay privately - but NO doctor could see her. She was told to make an appointment but the first appointment was for many many months to come..she needed a doctor urgently because her high blood pressure rose like the volcanoes in Iceland.(thanks to all the stress and thanks to the lack of empathy and warm care one would expect from any doctor world wide. Sadly, this was followed by one doctor literally slamming the door in her face because 'I HAVE NO TIME !' I will phone you in 2 weeks! ' How can you prescribe medication or diagnose someone on the phone..when all that may be necessary might be some reassurance, some peace of mind and the feeling of being in good hands. We thought Sweden was the best place in the world for health care. My mum is no burden to Sweden..she is financially very independant and has never taken 1 krone..in fact she is an investor. Alas! She is returning back home to Malta. No wonder we have so many Swedes living here..they are welcome like people of all EU nations are made to feel welcome and most of all they feel secure 'cos here doctors are kind and caring. Even if my son has influenza, I can call the doctor at any time and he will come to visit him at home. Just knowing this keeps my blood pressure normal!
00:03 October 30, 2011 by Kaethar
And the ranting begins... but seriously, if people have been attempting to get doctor's appointments for emergency situations (when you actually need to go to the emergency room) then that's your own problem. If you want to see a specialized doctor you're going to have to wait. If you don't want to wait pay for private healthcare (yes, it exists in Sweden). What you should never do however is book an appointment for an emergency - then you simply turn up at the emergency room. Depending on where you are (and if you're not in serious danger) you may have to wait (all night in some cases) but you'll get help within 12 hours at least.
00:35 October 30, 2011 by Online Personality
Actually, it's not uncommon for people to be denied emergency care, and the emergency rooms do turn people away without them ever having seen a doctor.

Posters such as Kaethar prefer very cruelly to blame the victim, instead of acknowledging very real problems that kill people and destroy lives. Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first stage to correcting the problem, and this is what a lot of the good doctors are working to do.
02:56 October 30, 2011 by Abe L
Just privatize it al together. It's embarrassing that a country like Sweden still has generalized healthcare. Make sure people get a tax relieve so they can simply pay for a private health insurance. If there is a proper influx of revenue then care can be made available much better and with much more pressure to be done properly. A single bad incident will drastically reduce an institution's reputation and will simply cost them money.
09:23 October 30, 2011 by dadu
@kAETHER : You did not have to read the ranting - that's your problem! You don't read and understand,

My mum was looking for a GP not a specialist. She was at emergency there they gave her the emergency care but told her to follow it up with her doctor,

She already has private health care valid EU wide. Doctors are not there to see patients who are at the last moments before death...

Your attitude is cruel and arrogant and @online personality correctly said..acknowledging that a problem exists is the first stage to correcting it. Why am I bothering..my mum is coming back home..where we wait max 20 minutes and see a caring, compassionate doctor ,it is because we are all human and feel each others. pain!
09:41 October 30, 2011 by zooeden
About frippin´time!!!
09:56 October 30, 2011 by Lavaux
On average, you will get the health care you pay for. Think about it.
12:02 October 30, 2011 by Just_Kidding
The problem is that people pay first (through taxes) and then are hoping to get help when they need it, but as whit car mechanics " the one who pays first gets the worst services.
12:09 October 30, 2011 by Migga

And what about you? Where was your care and compassion when the doctor said he didn`t have any time and was busy? You are no better then the ones you are criticizing.
12:25 October 30, 2011 by Svensksmith
Karex #2 and Lavaux #12 are both spot on. If the politcal leaders had to use the same healthcare system as everybody else, it would get fixed immediately.

The average Swede pays very little for his/her healthcare and that is what they recieve.
16:43 October 30, 2011 by Online Personality
Swedes pay the government a skit load for health care, but the government chooses to underfund it...
17:37 October 30, 2011 by RobinHood
The Swedish state is by no means underfunded. Swedes pay the second highest tax in world. Properly spent, this huge income would enable Swedes to receive a first-class health service, and a first-class everything else. Sadly, decades of socialist government has led to massive waste and institutionalised corruption. So massive, the state has little left to fund its hospitals, its railways, its education system; the lost of underfunded institutions goes on and on.

There should indeed be an audit, but on a far wider scale than medical emergency response procedures. There should be a complete audit of Sweden's entire state expenditure. Where does the second-highest taxable income in the world (per capita) go? Who benefits? This second-term government should have the confidence to abandon the wasteful expenditure put in place by its many socialist predecessors, and start spending the second highest taxable income in the world on the things the community actually cares about.

It will be a tough result for the army of useless and pointless leaches who siphon away most of the taxpayers' money, but a good day for people like Dadu's mum.
18:34 October 30, 2011 by dadu
@Migga @ Robinhood I am here in Malta worried sick but very happy ...for my mum who is coming back because here we care for our mothers and grandmothers and visit them every day and love and treasure our families. We don't pull the plug on them..ever! I am hurt for her feelings because she has had her dreams dashed all because of this problem. I am here waiting for her anxiously like all her family is... but if you really must know my mum wished to spend time in Sweden with her Swedish partner of 15 years..a wonderful man thank God otherwise I would have thought all were like you..who has been paying his Swedish taxes for over 45 years..they had big dreams of buying a house and l am angry that there are so many nasty people who go around with filthy tongues. How sad your lives must be. How sad that you think that people only come to your country to syphon your money.. is this how much you value your country? Has it ever occurred to you that my mum and her partner wanted to enjoy your magnificent forests and countryside. We have by the way a state of the art hospital here in Malta but most importantly it is a free health care system which cares for everyone alike..and we are proud of it...we dont need yours...We are Europeans you know..or don't you know that the EU has reciprocal rights to all EU citizens..I was on holiday in Norway and has an asthma attack, I was seen by a kind doctor immediately..and no one insulted me for needing a doctor! Who the heck do you think you are?
18:44 October 30, 2011 by RobinHood

I don't think you read my post very carefully. Please read it again properly, and apologise.
19:06 October 30, 2011 by Online Personality
Oh Robinhood. I'm not sure u understood my post either. I was essentially saying (or trying to say) just what you said...

Dadu, I hope your mother is well and has a warm welcome home.
10:52 October 31, 2011 by soultraveler3
"There should be a complete audit of Sweden's entire state expenditure."

That could be a wonderful idea Robinhood, but would it really change anything?

People are taxed more here than almost anywhere else in the world and have so little to show for it. The railways, roads, healthcare, education, elderly care etc. are all horrible here. It never ceases to amaze me when people here (in Sweden) defend or even brag about, the superiority of their different social systems. Their naivety would almost be humorous if the consequence of it weren't so dire.

I doubt anything would change even if an audit were to be done though.

Every time we read an article about someone being abused, misdiagnosed or even dying, it's the same thing. Nobody takes responsibility for what happened, there aren't any real consequences for anyone (even when they've been grossly negligent) and nothing changes. Similar stories are common throughout all of the systems here.

Plus, some of the problems are blatantly obvious. Politicians being paid much more than the average Swede, but still using tax money to pay for luxury housing, vacations etc. The government paying / allowing companies to keep people on praktik instead of hiring them. This costs a ton of money directly and also wastes tremendous amounts of money down the line. Overstaffing and understaffing in the wrong places.

I could go on, but there's no point. The problems are quite easy to spot.

Things will continue this way until the people of Sweden stand up and demand change. Being Swedes, I don't see that happening anytime soon.
19:28 October 31, 2011 by dadu

You are right I did not understand what you said and
20:13 October 31, 2011 by HYBRED
I agree there should be strict oversight in the healthcare services in Sweden. At the sametime I think the healthcare in Sweden is excellent and far better than in the USA. It is also cheaper in Sweden, even with the high taxes. In the USA the deductibles and out of pocket will add up to more than what you pay in total in Sweden. And thats if you do have medical insurance in the USA. If you don't have medical insurance through your job in the USA, you will pay at least $500 a month for it, and thats with very high deductibles. If you were to purchase in the USA the equal coverage to what is in Sweden it would cost at least $1500 a month. But the good thing about the USA is, that if you go to the hospital for a emergency reaon they have to treat you. In Sweden you have to convince some ex-Auschwitz guard that you need treatment.
20:27 October 31, 2011 by dadu
@Robinhood...I apolgise.. I have been visiting Sweden as a tourist back and forth for the past 20 years..I am certainly pro-Sweden..I love walking in your forests! It is sad that the doctor situation is so dire when I think your taxes are high enough..and even with private health care..seeing a doctor has become so difficult.. My reaction was harsh because of the cruel comments on @Migga so then I went on to assume you called us leaches...I apologise. Yes Authorities have to do the audit so the genuine tax payer who is in need must get the service and so does a tourist who is holidaying . However, surely doctors are obliged to behave more kindly. They are in the caring profession after all.

@Online personality..thanks for your concern, I spoke to my mum twice today and she seems in better spirits since booking her airline ticket.. and knowing she will see her doctor on her arrival. thanks for your kindness.
13:11 November 1, 2011 by karex
@kaethar #7

1. I HAVE gone to the emergency room with an emergency and was turned away - and told that I have to BOOK AN APPOINTMENT to go to the emergency room! How's that?

2. Calling an ambulance is about as emergency as emergency gets, yet people die waiting for one that never arrives.

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