"While dictators rage and statesmen talk, all Europe dances — to The Lambeth Walk."

Monday, 13 July 2009

The Definition of Racism in Sweden

In an almost unbelievable story from Sweden, a couple found that their son's medical records had a footnote insisting they were racists - because the mother once could not understand a foreign doctor and requested one who could speak Swedish properly - in an emergency situation concerning her baby:
A woman has reported a hospital in western Sweden to national authorities after discovering she and her husband had been described as racists in their son's medical records.

The woman filed a claim against
Norra Älvsborg municipal hospital to Sweden's Medical Responsibility Board (Hälso- och sjukvårdens ansvarsnämnd - HSAN), a national authority that assesses medical negligence, after discovering that she and her husband had been described as racists in their son's medical charts, reported TTELA newspaper.

Three years ago, when the son was five months old, the woman rushed the boy to the hospital in an ambulance. At the hospital, they encountered a foreign doctor whom the woman was unable to understand. She asked to see a Swedish-speaking doctor, and her request was granted.

When she recently requested her son's medical journal, she read that she and her husband had were described as racists in the notations.

Hospital management is also of the opinion that the notation was inappropriate.

The woman has also reported the doctor to the police for slander, and submitted a request to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to have her son's medical journal destroyed.

“We are not racists; we just didn't understand what the doctor said,” the mother told TTELA, adding that the notation had absolutely nothing to do with her son's medical condition.

She furthermore wondered if it had affected the family's treatment during subsequent visits to the same hospital.
Almost as unbelievable are the comments on the article - where many insist that if your doctor can technically speak Swedish but you cannot understand his foreign accent, that is your problem and to attempt to do anything about it constitutes racism.

In November last year a man was sent home with the wrong medication after failing to communicate properly with his doctor.

It fits the pattern normally found in such situations - the Swedes, as opposed to their privileged guests, must be the ones to adapt.

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