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Woman died an hour after calling 1813 emergency phone line

Doctor advised 36-year-old woman with a blood clot in the heart to take pain killers


People must call 1813 before turning up at the emergency room (Photo: Scanpix)

June 30, 2014
07:30

by Andreas Jakobsen


In the early hours of 27 March, 36-year-old Regina Holmegaard called the emergency phone service 1813 to speak to a doctor on duty. She had woken up in the middle of the night because she felt a severe pain in her chest and had difficulties breathing.

The doctor advised her to relax and take two painkillers. She did. An hour after the conversation, her boyfriend found her on the bathroom floor, dead from what turned out to be a blood clot in her heart.

Her death could have been avoided if the doctor had listened and identified the symptoms, Fyens Stiftstidende reports after getting access to the phone conversation in which the doctor fatally diagnosed her chest pain and breathing problems as a viral infection.

READ MORE: Health board slams emergency medical phone service

Doctor was wrong
Henrik Steen Hansen, the head of Hjerteforeningen who is a cardiologist at Odense University Hospital, agreed that the doctor should have been able to recognise the symptoms. 

"It's my conviction that the doctor clearly acted on a wrong interpretation and judgement of the woman's symptoms" he told Fyens Stiftstidende. "The doctor should have asked about the symptoms and the character of the pain."

Call 112 
If a doctor on 1813 doesn't listen and the pain near the heart continues, he advises, the patient should immediately call the emergency phone number 112 for an ambulance.

"If you are feeling a long-lasting chest pain, sometimes spreading to your arm, and you feel a shortness of breath and generally suspect that something is wrong, you must call 112, even if the doctor just told you that it's just a virus," he said.

Holmegaard's boyfriend has reported the incident to the patients' rights agency, Patientombuddet, where the complaint is currently being evaluated.



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