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Swedish Patients Get Pans And Spoons To Call Help

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the banging-on-pots-and-pans dept.

Medicine 13

The problem with overcrowding in Swedish hospitals has gotten so bad that one recently ran out of emergency buzzers for patients. Children were given pans and spoons to bang together in case of emergency, while adult patients got bells from a local hardware store to summon help. From the article: "All nine hospitals with emergency rooms in western Sweden are desperately overcrowded, a report by the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare said. Maria Tenggren, a union official and employee at Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg, said the hospitals 'long ago passed the limit of what is acceptable. We have for years nagged about the problem of overcrowding, but nothing happens,' she said."

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This article belies a greater question... (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35126914)

What are the Swedes doing that requires so much emergency care?!

Remember, kids, cut AWAY from yourself!

Re:This article belies a greater question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35128418)

What are the Swedes doing that requires so much emergency care?!

Nothing. People get sick and injured and need attention. If you have enough medical care capacity it isn't a problem. Sweden simply doesn't.

It's 'free' though. Hard to complain about the price. The obvious corollary is the ease with which non-payers are ignored, which may help to understand the "but nothing happens" part.

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35129662)

You get what you pay for.

I'd rather receive no healthcare than pay (via taxes or otherwise) for diluted, long-waiting-lines, we-don't-care-about-your-health care. At least I'd be getting my money's worth.

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35132912)

I live in sweden and have done so for my whole life, and I've never actually experienced this kind of thing. Anecdotal evidence, I know, but "uncaring underfunded incompetence" has never once been the experience I or any of my relatives and friends (that I've heard about) have had with the swedish hospital system. Except for one time, but that doc was simply kooked in the head.

This is a disgrace in any case, and the only article in the main newspaper about it is a short clip about the children's wards in south-western sweden being desperately overcrowded, and apparently have been for some time now despite the staff's pleas for more resources.

Sounds like blowing the things out of proportion.. (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#35134826)

Or someone, somewhere pushing an agenda of some kind.
Particularly when you read the more detailed article, which comes off as a bit contradictory to itself.
There's overcrowding, but there are actually three unused wards. There's a lack of staff, but it is actually a 3-hospital complex with a staff of 17.000. [wikipedia.org]

http://www.thelocal.se/31842/20110204/ [thelocal.se]

Pots and pans sound hospital patient alarms
Published: 4 Feb 11 12:07 CET

An overcrowded hospital in Gothenburg has resorted to giving patients in a children's ward saucepans and spoons to summon assistance in emergency situations, according to a union report.

At Östra Hospital in Gothenburg, ordinary bedside alarms are not available to every patient due to overcrowding. The saucepans and spoons were issued in the children's ward to lift their spirits.
At another department, the staff shopped at hardware chain Clas Ohlsson to buy bells for their patients, the Swedish Association of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet) reported on Friday.

The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) found that hospital overcrowding is common at all nine of western Sweden's hospitals with emergency departments.
"We have long ago passed the limit of what is acceptable. This is a huge problem," a shocked Maria Tenggren of the union, who also works at Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska University Hospital, said in a statement.

At Sahlgrenska/SU Östra, Alingsås and Mölndal, the supply of hospital beds is so scarce that it creates a risk for patient safety, the board wrote in its report.
"We have for years nagged about the problem of overcrowding, but nothing happens," said Tenggren.

She noted that there are currently three empty wards that are ready to open if the overcrowding becomes too much to handle and that the hospital has an action plan in place.
"However, with all the restrictions and reservations that exist, the opening of these extra spaces is rare. It looks great on paper, but it means nothing in practice," said Tenggren.

In addition, the board's inspection showed that at Östra Hospital, patients were relocated to wards where staff did not have the necessary skills to care for them. In addition, they often lacked oxygen and suction equipment, as well as bells.
The staff at the hospital in Mölndal could not adjust to the addition demand for care needed and had personnel who lacked the skills to care for relocated patients.

Mats Tullberg, the chief physician at SU, told newspaper Göteborgs-Posten (GP) on Friday that overcrowding is a major concern and that the relocation of patients to other departments was not a good sign.
"At most, we had about 80 patients waiting," he told GP.

And those patient numbers sound a lot like the numbers in Ireland [www.rte.ie] or Canada. [albertahealthservices.ca]

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 3 years ago | (#35133628)

See the thing is, you could have a nice hospital, properly staffed, an no waiting lines etc. Cause anyone who can't afford it simply doens't go to hospital, they lay around and die at home. Hmm sounds familiar.

Re:This article belies a greater question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146920)

Well, in Australia we have long waiting times for elective surgery, and overcrowded hospitals, but if you have a car accident or acute heart problem or suchlike, you will get triaged into the emergency room quick smart, and when you are discharged from hospital, you will not have to sell your house to pay for it, which is quite handy.

Oh, and all that hot air about "death panels" in these commie socialised medical systems? You have them too, only they're in your health insurance companies, and go by some sterilized name like "benefit limit review committees". So much nicer that way.

If you are horrified by the idea that there could be a limit under a socialised medical system to what can reasonably be paid/done to keep someone alive, consider what would happen to your health insurance premiums if there actually were no limit on how much money a premium holder could cost the insurance company.

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35130070)

This is a new ward set up for the sole purpose of treating Julian Assange's victims...

Re:This article belies a greater question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35134594)

What are the Swedes doing that requires so much emergency care?!

Being forced to pay for a service independently of how they use it I suspect. I know next to nothing about swedish government control over its hospitals so I am only speculating, but assuming an individual has no direct cost for visiting a hospital, the balance of incentive favors increased usage compared to having some direct and immediate cost associated with the exchange. This would tend towards increase consumption of medical services for less and less important things. As more consume, less resources are available. Speculating further, assuming taxation is the means by which hospitals are funded, I also anticipate allocation of resources isn't at all optimized for productivity. Instead, hospitals (and more importantly, those who influence the medical industry) focus their efforts to please those who are funding them. Thus, the increased demand isn't necessarily met with increased supply, even if more money is taken.

This is basic 101 econ stuff so no doubt it misses details. Still, I suspect it is the lions share of the reason. I did some searches to see if this anecdote was indicative of a common trend and a lot of the sources I read claimed overcrowding is common and that hospitals are indeed government funded, but at a very local level by municipalities.

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

Ailure (853833) | more than 3 years ago | (#35135790)

Actually beds in Swedish hospitals costs a fee if I recall. It's relatively cheap and depends a lot on the municipality and region (see as a example http://www.lj.se/infopage.jsf?childId=9131&nodeId=36221 [www.lj.se] although prices are quite bit cheaper than in my city ), but expensive enough to discourage people using it as a hotel.

The problem is that some hospitals hadn't really expanded fast enough as some cities grow, or people don't distribute themselves correctly (going to a large hospital when their local clinic is fine).

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

cronius (813431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35142066)

This would tend towards increase consumption of medical services for less and less important things.

I don't know how that stuff works in the US, but being Norwegian I can speak for Norwegian/Scandinavian hospitals (probably works roughly the same).

You can't just walk into a hospital and demand care. You need to see your normal doctor which can "order" a hospital to take you (or in an emergency the local 24/7 doctor or of course ambulance personnel can do the same).

Since doctors are paid the same regardless of what kind of treatment they give people, they have no incentive for giving wrongful or misleading diagnosis. There's no bonus if they lay off using the CAT-scan so often (or whatever it's called), and there's also no bonus if they treat 1000+ patients each.

They're paid to do the best job they can, and just like in any other profession they take pride in their work. Some are probably bad at their work, but like other higher education jobs, you're probably glad you can finally make money doing what you like (a friend of mine is studying to become a doctor [surgeon actually] as we speak, and after seven years of studies, he'll finally start working at a hospital full time).

In Scandinavia, we look in shock upon our American "neighbours" and how someone in their right mind could say no to the health care bill. Even the far far right parties wouldn't dream of removing free health care here (in Norway the far right party actually wants to spend more on it than what we're doing today).

Anecdote: When I was studying I had a semi-nasty biking accident that landed me a bed at the local hospital. After some surgery and lots of antibiotics, I started feeling better and wanted to go home. "I think we'll keep you for a couple of more days, those bacteria you had in that flesh wound was pretty nasty" was the message I got. So I ended up staying in the hospital for twelve days.

The hospital had no real incentive for keeping me there longer than needed, and no real incentive for kicking me out the door. They were simply giving me the medical care that I needed, and I didn't pay a dime. Yes I pay more taxes because of it, but I'll gladly pay that to see my neighbour get the same treatment that I did. (And *that* is socialism, by the way.)

Re:This article belies a greater question... (1)

Onuma (947856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35149220)

Great points, cronius. I can completely understand where you're coming from there. When I was in the military and very sick once, they kept me in the hospital until I was both healthy enough to take care of myself and no longer contagious, so there wouldn't be a spread of infection and/or pneumonia. I ended up going AWOL from the hospital and violated doctor's (Officer's) orders, but I that's another story :P The point being they took care of us, they all got paid the same (within their respective ranks) and they did their jobs to the best of their ability in the interest of keeping people healthy and ready for combat. The difference here is that medical care was a direct benefit of being active duty military, not a free government program.

A large part of the problem with the US health care system is litigation and malpractice insurance. Doctors in America can make several hundred thousand dollars or more if they're specialized and expert. Even at that, a very large part of their wages go to paying malpractice insurance, so that if someone brings them to court they can be covered for the likely-millions for which they're being sued.

We need to first fix our court and insurance systems, because without these two functioning properly we can not receive adequate health care without medical professionals worrying about huge repercussions.

I still wholeheartedly believe in the capitalist system being the most feasible. While many cry "unfair" at a system in which some people can afford care and others cannot, it is actually the most fair system possible. No one pays for something they haven't directly earned by doing their job -- you truly can't be more fair than that. There will always be NFP organizations willing to provide care to those who cannot afford it, just like there already are.

The "Obamacare" bill is a problem on multiple levels.
A.) It is unconstitutional in that it forces citizens to pay for a service which they may or may not choose to seek on their own.
B.) It is an extremely costly maneuver during a time when the government is absolutely fiscally BROKE. There is simply no money available for dropping billions of dollars on revamping the health care system. The fourth consecutive Continuing Resolution is underway until at least March, so until we can figure out what our budgets are in the first place, we have no place spending money we do not possess. In order to stabilize the economy, we need to cut a whole lot of spending, and that means cutting out the health care bill for starters.
C.) Health care is a private sector. The government needs to keep their nose out of it, unless there is some atrocious spike in deaths from malpractice or some other exceptional situation.

I'm not dead set on right- or left-leaning policies, nor do I support elephants or asses. I just want our Congressional and local representatives to get their heads out of their collective asses and fix what is clearly a problem. You don't make your dollar increasingly valuable by printing billions more.

belies the greater question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35146682)

Um, instead of "belies", perhaps you meant "invites" or "suggests"? It's hard to belie a question.

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