This Swedish hospital appears to have beds aplenty, but several are not as well prepared to accept patients. Photo: Kerstin Edquist

Hospitals turning patients away

Several hospitals in Sweden lack enough beds to accommodate all their patients, reports news agency TT, citing the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare's most recent inspections that reveal overcrowded hospitals and staff stretched thin.

"In some places, patients are being sent home from the emergency room because there isn't enough space for them, and hospital personnel is forced to examine the patients quickly so they can prioritize who is the most ill. The situation is extremely serious," says Thomas Mehralizade, acting head of the department at the Board.

Lately, the Board has made inspections at three hospitals: Karolinska University Hospital in Huddinge, Skåne University Hospital in Lund, and Länssjukhuset Ryhov in Jönköping. The results show overcrowding and repeated relocation of patients to other wards, because the ward that was originally intended for them is too crowded.

Mehralizade says such relocations pose the biggest risk to patients, who may wind up in a ward that does not have the competence to deal with the patient's specific needs.

Moreover, he tells TT that this is not just a problem that crops up in the summer.

"Our inspections have revealed deficiencies over a long period of time. Health care providers now have to make sure that patients can feel secure that they will get the medical care they have sought," he says.

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