Body of lonely Swedish patient forgotten for days

A deceased patient who had no relatives was left in a room for days at the Örebro University Hospital before staff realized the body was still there.

Body of lonely Swedish patient forgotten for days

The patient died soon after being admitted to the intensive care unit in late May.

Hospital staff put the body in a room where friends and relatives can go to say their final goodbyes. But the patient had no relatives and staff simply forgot the body was in the room – until five days later when another deceased patient was brought in.

In that period, nobody had come to say their goodbyes to the dead patient.

“What happened is terribly unfortunate and the fact that the patient lacked relatives is a factor but it still should not happen,” Anders Nydahl, head of the hospital’s anesthetics and intensive care unit, told local newspaper Nerikes Allehanda (NA).

“I have worked here for 37 years and this has never happened before,” he added.

Normally, a deceased patient should only stay in the room for up to six hours and then be brought to the pathologist.

“Things happen to the body and had the room temperature been higher the consequences would have been worse. In this case not much had happened to the body,” said Nydahl.

The hospital launched a review to try to find out what went wrong. The ward has since improved its routines to prevent a similar incident from happening in the future, it said.

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Pregnant woman died in overcrowded hospital

A Swedish hospital pressured by a lack of beds and staff coupled with a winter increase in patients has reported itself to the healthcare watchdog after a pregnant woman died in its emergency room.

Pregnant woman died in overcrowded hospital
File photo of a pregnant woman not connected to the story. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

The woman complained of headache and vomiting when she visited Mölndal Hospital in western Sweden in December, reports broadcaster SVT. It was decided to let her undergo a brain scan, but because of a lack of beds in the neurology ward she had to stay in the emergency room overnight.

During the night her condition deteriorated. She was taken to the neurology ward for emergency surgery, but her life could not be saved. The hospital filed a so-called 'Lex Maria' report to the healthcare watchdog, the Health and Social Care Inspectorate, suggesting overcrowding may have been to blame.

“Inadequate level of care, possible shortcomings in the transmission of information and delayed transport could be a contributory factor to the tragic course of events,” SVT, which does not state how far ahead the woman was in her pregnancy, quoted it as saying.

The hospital does not wish to comment during the ongoing investigation, but several staff members have voiced concern over a lack of beds in non-emergency departments at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, of which Mölndal Hospital is part.

“Patients who really need care in the other wards end up staying in the emergency room. The staff then have to try to care for them there, while caring for a continuous stream of new patients,” Karin Frank, the healthcare union representative at Mölndal Hospital, told SVT.

The Local has previously reported on other incidents of overcrowding at Swedish hospitals. In December, three families from Uppland county had to travel to Finland to give birth because there was no room for them and their specific needs in the neonatal unit of Uppsala University Hospital.

Last year a baby died when a heavily pregnant woman was turned away from an overcrowded hospital in the south of the country, while in a high-profile case in 2014, a Swedish man had to help his fiancée give birth to their baby in the back of a taxi because the family was turned away by a midwife, who said there wasn't a hospital bed available for them in all of Stockholm.