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Heart attack victim dies after ambulance denied

The Local/dl · 14 Mar 2012, 08:23

Published: 14 Mar 2012 08:23 GMT+01:00

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The man called Swedish emergency number 112 at 10pm one evening last summer complaining of pain in his arms and breathing problems, but the nurse who took the call didn’t think an ambulance was necessary.

Several hours later, the man called again, telling the operator he felt extremely weak and was still having trouble breathing.

The man was told to lie down and rest.

A third call was placed to SOS Alarm a few hours later by the man’s sister, who said her brother had vomited and could barely move.

Finally, 13 hours after the man’s first call, an ambulance was sent to the man’s home and he was taken to hospital.

He was diagnosed having a heart attack and died less than a day later.

The incident, which took place last year, was reported to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

Upon reviewing the case, the agency last week issued its findings, criticizing the actions of the nurses who took the initial calls for not focusing on the man’s symptoms and failing to interview him correctly.

However, the health board refrained from requiring that SOS Alarm implement any specific changes as the agency is currently conducting a national review of the emergency services operator.

Story continues below…

Speaking with the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper, SOS Alarm spokesperson Anders Klarström said the company takes the incident “very seriously”.

“We’re doing everything we can to ensure everything goes right and we’ve added more resources to our patient safety unit in order to work with these sort of quality issues,” he told the paper.

The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:46 March 14, 2012 by Iraniboy
Well I'm probably very unqualified to comment on this but it reads here that he died a day after in hospital. If there was anything they could do in hospital, they could do it during the day he was in hospital I guess.
08:50 March 14, 2012 by Rap43
""We're doing everything we can to ensure everything goes right and we've added more resources to our patient safety unit in order to work with these sort of quality issues," he told the paper."

Quality issues?

The man died.

Get rid of these chair warmers and put front-line paramedics on the phones.

Get rid of the for-profit model in emergency response - if there is a problem with too few resources, expose it and bring it out into the open, don't hide it behind a company and let them take the heat.

This is exactly the kind of service our high taxes are supposed to pay for - Probably the first priority for taxes at any level.
08:59 March 14, 2012 by Decedo
Wow this resembles third world or maybe poor second world care. I used to complain about the Canadian system, but seeing this system makes me shutter. My Mother in Canada used to have heart problems before her surgery, and when called, the ambulance used to be there in 15 mins
09:34 March 14, 2012 by gpafledthis
Is not anyone over there ready-TO PASS ON ??? #1 got the point !! All the kings money or your taxes will not stay the reaper on his rounds !! 75 is a damn fine age to go !! Ya all want to "go slow" on this issue too ????
09:41 March 14, 2012 by Decedo
@Iraniboy - with a heart attack time is your enemy. Studies have shown that patients that get medical attention within 60 minutes of the attack can double their chance of survival, within 90 minutes they increase their chances by 25%, and so on. In this case 13+ hours is plain negligence.
09:49 March 14, 2012 by BillyB
Sad fact is that this is so common now thats its just not surprising anymore.

A real story would be "Today an Ambulance was actually sent to a sick person who called the emergency services"
10:08 March 14, 2012 by JulieLou40
The number of similar cases frightens me. An absolute disgrace. People are dying here!!
10:15 March 14, 2012 by Borilla
@Rap43 - echo your comments

@gpafledthis - you are an idiot.

The same thing happens over and over again with SOS. Socialstyrelsen is still reviewing the issue? What they are doing is seeking instruction from the appropriate Moderate ministers as to how to massage this problem to determine that the for profit model works and to prevent implementing any rules that would require SOS, or any other for profit operator, to actually have to spend money on patient care. How many people have to die before they recognize that the for profit system doesn't work in this context? An ill-qualified telephone operator should not be diagnosing ill and injured patients over the phone. The operator should be dispatching an ambulance so that qualified paramedics and/or an ER doctor can see the patient.
10:41 March 14, 2012 by libertarianism
Swedish Healthcare = Potemkin Facade
11:15 March 14, 2012 by jesseblu
If you require a quick response from emergency services, simple load the patient into a car and cause a minor fender bender! Had on the other day in Malmö (was driven into from behind). In a flash, we had 3 X fire brigade trucks, 4 X Ambulances and 3 X police cars. I was all a tad embarrassing.
11:28 March 14, 2012 by Rap43

Oh! Good idea!

When in need of an ambulance call to report a house fire instead...

Hmm, wait, that won't work, didn't I see a story about SOS refusing to dispatch the fire department because kids called in the alarm...

I have been an emergency dispatcher in Canada and any one of these incidents would have seen me fired and possibly in jail if I had done them.

Then again, I worked for the fire department, not a for-profit company. I actually understood that it is ALWAYS better to err on the side of caution when dealing with people's lives.
11:55 March 14, 2012 by Decedo
@Rap43 Cheers

I didn't think I'd ever hear myself saying this but I wish the US style Malpractice or negligence threat was here, or at least some form of accountability. Here is Sweden this will get filed and brought up at this person's 'bonus' review, and maybe they'll get a few less SEK for this incident.
12:48 March 14, 2012 by zooeden
Well I guess people have to realize by now that we cant just call for an ambulance anymore, next time something serious happen call a Taxi or someone with a car to take you to the hospital!!!

And encourage anyone to take every other a black job or not to pay taxes if they are not used in a way it could help our system function... what bout that!?
12:49 March 14, 2012 by inthenovel
The so called costs of" free health care" are increasing constantly here. This ambulance news is awful. It is negligence, pure and simple. There should be a law suite and some accountability for this man's death.

There have been a few of these and very recently.

In answer to Rap43 Cheers....there are no bonuses in Sweden.
13:27 March 14, 2012 by Thebinary1
What cracks me up is that TheLocal has classified this story as "Science & Techology" >D

What a bunch of retards ....
14:28 March 14, 2012 by Dazzler
He was far past his useful age I suppose. The government knows it cheaper to let the old folk die than to actually help them.
14:40 March 14, 2012 by ironman294
It seems like every week this a death is reported on this website due to emergency response nots ending someone over. A man is feeling weak and he is told to rest? What imbeciles. In America if you call an ambulance, one is sent immediately and the patient is on the phone and asked what the symptons are to prepare them for the ambulance and prepare the responders who are on their way.

Maybe the government could take over if they had more money for real emergencies and services rather than allow all the leeches to stay in school for 7 or 8 years just to get their useless undergraduate degrees when they will all make around the same amount of money in socialist Sweden.


Heads should roll!
16:44 March 14, 2012 by libertarianism
Sweden is culling the herd and buying new breeding stock.
18:00 March 14, 2012 by OUIJA
One more? How many more to die before someone does something really drastic against the SOS Alarm System?
18:41 March 14, 2012 by TheWatchman
Wow that's horrible. They should get jail time. But wait, it's Sweden.
19:10 March 14, 2012 by OUIJA
They will be promoted to work with the police force. With the training they have, they will shoot bandits 10 hours after they have left the place.
19:54 March 14, 2012 by tadchem
Medical decisions should be made by medical professionals, not by politicians or telephone operators.
20:01 March 14, 2012 by OUIJA
10:15 March 14, 2012 by Borilla

Why don't you just comment on something without the "you are an idiot" remark?

Just wondering.
21:15 March 14, 2012 by dizzymoe33
This is just terrible!! There needs to be better standards and better training in Sweden!!! I don't understand how Swedish citizens just stand around and allow this type of behavior?!!!!
21:48 March 14, 2012 by VicTaulic
Taxi-cabs are better than ambulances anyway. Oh, you say you don't want to pay for a cab ride to the hospital?
22:06 March 14, 2012 by RobinHood
I have found that reporting yourself as an owner of an illegal hedgehog brings dozens of police, firemen and vets to your doorstep in minutes. If the police don't accidently shoot you, they will usually offer you a lift to the hospital.
22:31 March 14, 2012 by wxman
"50 days' pay and ordered him to pay the woman 10,000 kronor ($1,472) in damages." You have to be kidding me! In the US, he would have been fired and would be facing charges that could go to 2 years in prison!
00:14 March 15, 2012 by Investor612

You're wrong. The faster you get care in a heart attack the better your chances of survival and minimizing the damage to the heart.

To those trying to make this a government does it better issue: BS. It's a competence issue and government employess can be and often are incompetent. There are stories here ion the US by negligence of 911 operators who are government employees.One difference. The private companies will be more likely to fire negligent employees.The contracts negotiated by public sector unions and government officials pandering to them to get their votes have made it difficult to fire employees even when they are grossly negligent.
12:54 March 15, 2012 by cattie
This is a typically "swedish" problem of of ill-conceived procedures an throw-back systems.

The systems are a throw-back from a time before privatization, when services were rendered with little thought to money-savings. In a time where an ambulance was sent every time without cost considerations, a telephone operator with no medical training made sense. Privatization occured, profit-motive in place, and a back-up system of accountablity (at a punitive level to ensure compliance) was not put in place.

Privatization only works for the public good IF it is NOT PROFITABLE to let people become disabled or die. The consequence needs to be comensurate with the loss. A legal remedy needs to be enacted.

The reason, in the USA, that when you call your HMO's nurse line, and you have chest pains, that they immediately authorize a trip to the emergency room (despite the high cost to the insurance company) is that the consequence for a misdiagnois over the phone is TOO costly, Sure, it may be your ulcer acting up. However, if you die, or get disabled, the private medical system will pay dearly for that mistake. SO, they put procedures in place to avoid making that mistake. (This includes a lot of unnecessary tests, but that is a debate for another day.)
15:44 March 15, 2012 by soultraveler3
This happens ALL the time here. There's no excuse for it, especially with the amount of tax people pay into the system.

If someone calls the police, ambulance, firefighter just make it a requirement that the proper service is sent out to investigate.

The people answering the phones at SOS shouldn't be in charge of determining whether or not help is actually needed, they've already proven that they're incapable of this. They should ONLY be in charge of contacting the correct people and making sure they're dispatched and at the scene of the emergency as quickly as possible.

If it's found that someone is making a prank call or misusing the system give them a huge fine.

It's infinitely better that someone is sent out for nothing than allowing innocent people to continue to die.
16:49 March 16, 2012 by Kevin Walker
This system stinks.We the public should be able to know if we need an

ambulance or not.Not some stupid woman asking stupid questions to determin if it is serious or not.

Isnt it exactly the same with Vårdcentral,you must make out your alot sicker than what you really are,and be firm and say ,I want a time today or I will report you,that gets me a time that day.If you are not standing your ground ,like my swedish wife,then you get walked over and they say,No Doctor times untill 2-3 weeks.

Everything that is wrong in this country needs Protests on the streets,and I know most English people would do this over here,but we always think whats the point,You will never get the backing from the Swedes.They are conditioned to do as there told and say nothing.
23:41 March 16, 2012 by Swedishmyth
One branch of government "criticizing" another won't ever make a difference. Business funded by force do not need to deliver the goods, healthcare included.
14:09 March 18, 2012 by OUIJA
My neighbours were in the need of an ambulance at 04:00, because their little tiny daughter (1 1/2 years old) became suddenly ill. The ambulance came, but the driver could not see the number, a big one nailed down in a tree. The driver had come up a hill of about 200 meters, without putting the alarm on. When my neighbours heard the sound of a car, they went out to check and saw the ambulance going down the hill. The husband took the car with his wife and their two daughters and drove straight to the nearest hospital. That is how many times the things function in Sweden.

I know how big the number of his house looks like, because right next to it, is the number to my house.
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