Uppsala hospital faces record fine for ‘serious flaws’ in emergency department

Entrance sign to Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden
The emergency department at Uppsala University Hospital faces fines for 'serious breaches'. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
One of Sweden's top hospitals is being threatened with a record 20 million kronor fine after the health inspectorate identified "serious shortcomings" in its emergency department.

According to a new report from the inspectorate, the situation at Uppsala University Hospital’s emergency ward is “serious”, and requires “immediate action”.

The problems identified included severe bed shortages, leading to treatment waiting times of up 20 hours.

“We don’t want it to go so far as requiring someone to actually die because they haven’t received treatment and care,” Peder Carlsson, unit chief for Sweden’s healthcare inspectorate (IVO), told TT.

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“People need to wait an extremely long time to be medically assessed, and during that time they are not necessarily being monitored in the way their health needs demand.”

He said that the waiting times of up to 20 hours were long enough to mean that some patients, such as the “old, infirm, and also sick”, could end up in “an extremely bad situation”.

Johan Lugnegård, the hospital’s head doctor, said that the hospital required more hospital beds, and in particular more nurses to bring down waiting times.

“We need to quickly open up 30 to 40 beds to handle the situation,” he said. “We absolutely agree with the judgement. This is an issue we’ve been dealing with continuously for a long time.”

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He said it was currently extremely difficult to recruit nurses.

“This is mainly about nurses and it’s something I believe the whole of the Swedish healthcare system is struggling with.”

Mikael Köhler, the hospital’s medical director, said that the hospital had struggled to keep up with rising demand for care.

“The basic situation is that we need to get more people to work for us.

He said that patients in Uppsala should, however, not be worried about receiving treatment at the hospital.

“We follow up every individual event that happens and there is only one thing to tell people: you can come to the University Hospital when you are sick, and you are going to get a very high standard of care.”

Carlsson said that this was the highest fine that IVO had ever levied.

“You might think it’s a high fine, but considering the shortcomings we see and the need people have for getting quality and safe care, it’s not so high,” he said.

“We are using the sharpest tool we have in our box to really underline that this is a serious situation and action needs to be taken now.”

The hospital needs to prove it has overcome the shortcomings by December 2nd, otherwise it will be required to pay the fine.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of the article stated that the problems were identified in the hospital’s intensive care unit; it has now been updated to state that it was the emergency department.


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