17-year-old dies after ambulance no-show

Swedish emergency response service SOS Alarm has reported the death of a teenage boy to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), after the ambulance never turned up and his parents had to drive him to hospital.

17-year-old dies after ambulance no-show

”The tragic event with the young boy is being investigated internally. We’re collecting as much information about it as we can. When we’ve finished with the investigation we will do a lex Maria report so the National Board of Health and Welfare can look into it,” said Sylvia Myrsell, head of the SOS Alarm patient safety division to Sveriges Radio (SR).

The 17-year-old boy from Kalmar in southern Sweden died in hospital in January after his parents drove him there, giving up on the ambulance they had been waiting for.

SOS Alarm claim that there was an error with the prioritizing of the case, resulting in the case not being treated as an emergency.

It remains unclear if the boy died as a result of the delayed response time of the ambulance, whose drivers drove without lights or sirens.

“When we become aware of incidents in which our management is questioned, we always begin with an internal investigation. But our goal is not to hang any employee out to dry, we try to find the system or organizational error that may have been responsible for the mistake.”

“Then we put a proposal on the measures needed to prevent the repetition of the occurrence. Meanwhile, our company is a business where there is always a risk of human error, that can’t be avoided,” explained Myrsell.

The incident has now been reported to the health board in accordance with Sweden’s Lex Maria, the informal name for regulations governing the reporting of injuries or incidents in the Swedish health care system.

SOS Alarm has come under fire in recent months as the company has been suggested as being responsible for three deaths, in three separate cases, where the ambulance response time was slow or it didn’t turn up at all.

According to SR, SOS Alarm handles some 1.5 million cases every year that require emergency response.

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Last rites for Sweden’s divine hotline

The Swedish government is proposing to call time on a service that allows people to talk to a pastor by ringing the national emergency number 112, a move that counters action to cut suicide rates, the service's national coordinator has said.

Last rites for Sweden’s divine hotline

A new report entitled “One authority for emergencies” proposes that SOS Alarm, the company that runs the 112 number, should be replaced with an agency that deals solely with police, ambulance, fire and rescue services, according to a report in the Christian newspaper Kyrkans Tidning on Thursday.

“Removing the service doesn’t fit with the government’s vision to reduce suicide rates,” Monica Eckerdal, national coordinator of the 112 pastor on-call service, told the newspaper.

In an further interview with Christian daily Dagen, Eckerdal added that the financial crisis and constraints on Sweden’s mental health service has put increased pressure on the phoneline. Since 2008, the number of calls has increased by 40 percent.

“The problem today is that many people can’t afford a landline and only own a mobile with pre-paid cards,” she said. “When the money is gone you can still make emergency calls, so the call to us is perhaps the only chance people get to talk to someone all day.”

The phone line is open daily between the hours of 9pm and 6pm with priests from the Swedish Church volunteering to lend their ear to those in crisis. It was first introduced on a regional level in the 1950s and has been linked to the 112 number since 2002.

“I’m not worried about it on the Swedish Church’s part,” Eckerdal told Dagen. “We are already equipped to start up an 020 number for emergency calls directly. But this is about those who are not able to call a number other than 112.”

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