There has been a 10-percent hike in ambulance call-outs in Sweden in the past three years, and it is not due to a 10-percent increase in emergency cases.
Emergency call operators are afraid of refusing a request for an ambulance and being hung out in the media if something goes wrong, wrote Eric Carlström, an ambulance nurse studying at University West.
“There’s a whole bunch of patients who could have taken a taxi or other medical transport instead, while those people who are truly in need of help and need to be picked up in minutes are maybe made to wait for 40 minutes,” Carlström said in a statement, according to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.
In 2012, Sweden was hit with a number of cases where an ambulance no-show resulted in a death.
In January, a 22-year-old woman died after her request for help was denied because she was “still talking”.
In February, a 17-year-old boy’s parents were forced to drive him to hospital after no ambulance showed up, with the SOS Alarm team later blaming an error in prioritization. He died soon after.
The new report suggests that even the patients are unimpressed.
“You get irritated when you are referred by health services to go in to emergency just to spend six hours of potential sleep time so you can sit there in the glow of some aquarium,” said one internet user who was cited in the report.
The study suggests that more time should be invested in training emergency call operators to ensure they feel comfortable trusting their instincts.