Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen has another hospital scandal on her hands, and this one seems headed for a discussion in Parliament, after more than a dozen patients underwent unauthorized surgery and two had organs removed when they weren’t sick.
Newspaper VG broke the story over the weekend that two patients at Nordlandssykehuset in Bodø had healthy organs removed because their doctors thought they had cancer. They didn’t, and the local hospital wasn’t authorized to carry out such complicated operations anyway.
Health care regulations call for such surgery to be performed either at the national hospital (Rikshospitalet) in Oslo or, for residents of northern Norway, at the University Hospital in Tromsø.
After a complaint was filed over the first case last spring, health authorities started to investigate. Now it turns out that fully 16 unauthorized operations were carried out at the hospital in Bodø, 13 of them during the past year by two newly employed foreign doctors.
One of the doctors still works at the hospital in Bodø, the other at Helgelands Hospital. Their licenses to work in Norway are in order, but neither is being allowed to conduct surgery for the time being.
One hospital administrator blamed a “miscommunication” and on Monday the clinic chief resigned his position. He’d been the boss for both of the doctors who performed the unauthorized operations.
The scandal comes just months after another one at the hospital in Bærum, just west of Oslo, and Health Minister Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen says she is taking it seriously.
“With all the cases that are coming up, I see a reason to orient the (parliament’s) health care committee,” Strøm-Erichsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Last week it also emerged that the official in charge of the state agency that certifies doctors, nurses and dentists in Norway had in fact falsified her own CV and forged documents related to her education.
She said she was “shocked” over the new reports of hospital errors and said it was important to salvage patient confidence in Norway’s public health care system. She said there “clearly” was also need for better control mechanisms.
All of the patients involved in the unauthorized operations in Bodø are being contacted and a full investigation is promised.