Health

Surgeon Struck Off in Norway - Operates in Sweden

A Danish surgeon who lost the right to operate in Norway after 29 cases of wrong treatment is now operating patients at a Swedish hospital. Her Norwegian record has come as a surprise to her current employer in Gävleborg, but they claim she has done a good job here.

On Monday it turned out that the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare had the information that the surgeon had been banned from operating in Norway, but the information never left the agency.

It was Norwegian Television NRK that brought the story to light. They call the 62-year-old female surgeon "Norway's worst doctor", since she has received most complaints to the Norwegian Disciplinary Board - ever.

Over a period of 15 years 42 complaints have been filed against her. In 29 of them, the Board confirmed she had done wrong. So far, over 1,6 million US dollars have been paid out in compensation, for mistakes that are branded as "serious" by the organisation that deals with compensation to patients in Norway.

After media attention in 2005 the Norwegian health council withdrew the surgeon's licence to operate. But she was allowed to keep her medical licence. And with that, she moved on to operate in Denmark and then in July 2007 started working at the hospital in Hudiksvall in Northern Sweden. First employed by a staffing agency, and then directly by the hospital.

The hospital never checked her records or references from earlier positions. Since they were happy with the job she did for them when at the staffing agency, they decided to employ her directly. Her boss, Kjell Norman, found out about her record from the Norwegian television team.

It now turns out that the Norwegian Health department warned the other Scandinavian countries about the doctor in a letter. The National Board of Health and Welfare tells Swedish Radio News that they cannot find any letter, but that the doctors name appear on one of the quarterly lists as someone who has lost the licence to operate.

These lists are shared between the authorities in the Nordic Countries, but there is no routine for spreading the information any further. It is only used by the national health authorities if the health authority in another country withdraws the medical licence - then they can apply to do the same here. But Sweden does not have a system like Norway where only the licence to operate can be withdrawn.

The National Board of Health and Welfare, now emphasises the employers' responsibility to better check the background of those they hire. Kjell Norman in Hudiksvall, who hired the doctor, agrees they should have checked better.

After all the media reporting over the weekend, several patients have contacted the hospital to ask about the doctor or to ask who was scheduled to operate on them. Kjell Norman tells the news agency TT that it matters what the patients think, and should the situation become untenable, the doctor may be moved to another department. But, as Kjell Norman says, "we are not there yet".