‘Conscious choice’: Swedish hospital refuses to treat failed plastic surgery victims

‘Conscious choice’: Swedish hospital refuses to treat failed plastic surgery victims
One of the largest hospitals in Sweden decided to cancel appointments for patients suffering from the consequences of botched plastic surgeries in a move that triggered debates, with legal experts saying there is no lawful basis to deny treatment.

In mid-August, the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic at the Karolinska University Hospital canceled several patients’ appointments on a short notice, citing a new policy at the facility. “Sure, it’s hard, but we have limited resources. I am aware that these patients are having trouble, but there is also room for solving this in private care,” the clinic’s professor Pär Stjärna told SVT Nyheter.

The patients had booked their visits, seeking help with complications, including breathing issues, fractures and nerve damages, which followed poorly executed cosmetic surgery on their noses at private clinics.    

However, due to the new policy at the Karolinska University Hospital, they were denied assistance, as having made a “conscious choice” to undergo a cosmetic makeover and expose themselves to possible risks. Pär Stjärna insists these patients will receive “the greatest competency” in private healthcare sector, while the hospital treats injuries “of an acute nature,” such as bleeding or serious respiratory issues.

The move sparked discussions on whether it was legal and ethical. The government agency, the National Board of Health and Welfare, says the hospital can’t refuse patients depending on how their injuries were sustained.

“There are not legal grounds for ruling out an entire group of patients on the basis that their injuries were incurred in a specific way, for example through cosmetic surgery,” The Local cited the agency’s legal advisor, Tesj Aschan, as saying. “The patient should always be assessed based on the individual need for care,” he went on, noting that it’s not possible to place responsibility on patients, even though they were aware of the risks.

“One should not exclude anyone from healthcare even though injury would have been caused in the beauty industry,” another expert at the National Board of Health and Welfare, Anders Alexandersson, said.

One of the patients who had her surgery booked at the Karolinska University Hospital, Gabriella Kaya, sees the decision to repeal her as discrimination against people who underwent beauty surgeries.

“It's not fair, it's like refusing nursing lung cancer patients because they've been smoking for 20 years and therefore blame themselves. We who have done beauty operations have the same right to get help as any other citizen,” Carolina told SVT Nyheter.

The woman has suffered severe breathing problems after undergoing two failed surgeries, meant to narrow her nose, but instead the surgery ruined her nostrils.