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Healthcare

Doctor Suspected of Manslaughter Remains in Custody

Published fredag 6 mars 2009 kl 11.43

Friday morning saw detention hearings for a consultant at Astrid Lindgren Children’s’ Hospital in Stockholm. The doctor was taken into custody on Monday on suspicion of causing the death of a small child in her care.

A large crowd of journalists and photographers were present at the scene as the woman arrived at the court on Friday morning.

According to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter the details surrounding the death are still unclear. The little girl who died in September last year was born more than three months prematurely and had suffered severe oxygen deprivation during the birth. After being given the wrong drip, doctors diagnosed multiple haemorrhages in her brain. On the 19 September a CT scan showed that the child suffered from severe brain damage and the next day doctors switched off the life support machines.

The prosecutor demanded that the defendant be charged with murder or manslaughter but the defence maintained that no crime has been committed. The court decided to keep the woman in custody for a week on suspicion of manslaughter. During this time the prosecutor will question the nurse who worked with the doctor on the 20 september last year.

Eva Bågenholm-Nilsson, chairwoman for the Swedish Medical Association, says that what’s happened has worried many other Swedish doctors.

“If a colleague can be charged with murder for switching off life support, so can they,” Bågenholm-Nilsson told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

She is shocked that the police are handling the investigation and not the National Board of Health and Welfare, as is usually the case. The fact that four police officers apprehended the woman in her place of work is “unbelievable”, according to Bågenholm-Nilsson.

“I can’t see what reason there was for four police officers to storm in and apprehend a doctor in this way,” she said to Svenska Dagbladet. 

The police reject the claim that they should not be in charge of the investigations.

“As far as I know it is always the police that should investigate a suspected murder case”, a police press officer told Svenska Dagbladet.

The prosecutor, Elisabeth Brandt, says that the suspicion  is based on autopsy findings and on a statement from the National Board of Forensic Medicine. It is believed the child was injected with sodium thiopental and morphine, both classed as narcotics, according to Swedish news agency TT.

The prosecutor told TT that she was content with the decision to charge the doctor with manslaughter. She regretted that the woman had been taken into custody at her place of work but said that officers had little choice as the woman had already left her house.

”Our intention was that it would be achieved in a smooth and calm way, but unfortunately that was not the way it turned out,” she told TT.

The lawyer for the defence, Björn Hurtig, told Swedish Radio News that he thinks the court has reached the wrong conclusion and that his client will appeal the custody decision.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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