Doctors at Skaraborg's Hospital used the Ilizarov-method. Photo: Swedish Radio and WIKIMEDIA COMMON
Doctors at Skaraborg's Hospital used the Ilizarov-method. Photo: Swedish Radio and WIKIMEDIA COMMON

Doctor suspended after 37 patients were injured by treatment

A doctor at Skaraborg hospital has been suspended after 37 patients were found to have had serious injuries after being treated with a method more suitable for other types of fractures.

Colleagues at the hospital were concerned, and this spring 49 cases of wrong treatment were reported to the Health and Social Care Inspectorate (IVO). Now an external investigation has found that the method caused serious injuries to 37 of the patients.

At a press conference on Tuesday, professor of orthopedics Olle Svensson, who has carried out the investigation said that the method - known as the Iliziarov-method - can be useful, but that it had been used far too widely at the hospital.

The method is known as Iliziarov-method and was invented in the 1950s in the Soviet Union. It has been used widely in Western Europe and has been successful, in particular for treating complicated fractures in the lower part of the leg. The method is an alternative to putting the injured limb in plaster, instead the fracture is fixed by metal sticks. But according to Olle Svensson, the method was used on the wrong type of injuries at the hospital.

"The method has been used somewhat indiscriminately, also for wrists and shoulders, which has caused very long periods of fixation, which in turn has caused injuries," said Svensson.

Over 500 people have been treated with the method at Skaraborg's Hospital and several different doctors have used the method, and there are also successful results. "But they have believed in this method and have used it indiscriminately," he said.

Svensson also criticised how patients had been chosen for the treatment, and how the case notes had been handled.

"It surprises me that no-one from (the inspectorate) IVO has reacted. As far as I understand, there have been several complaints, locally as well as from doctors from Gothenburg. But IVO has brushed off the issue," Svensson said.

In a written comment to the news agency TT, the suspended doctor criticises the independent investigation, calling it "misleading" and "not at all objective".

"The investigator reveals personal opinions that have neither grounds, nor references to what has happened," wrote the doctor, who says he is in touch with lawyers from the Swedish Medical Association to try to bring about another external investigation.

At the press conference, the hospital director said he regretted what had happened, and apologised to all the affected patients and their relatives. All those with injuries were going to be contacted and offered follow-up treatment, said the hospital director Jörgen Thorn.

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