Updated: Oct 12
By YLE News - 11.10.2023 - [FINLAND]
One dozen physicians who lost their professional credentials in Sweden are still allowed to work in Finland, according to an investigative journalism team from Svenska Yle.
Three of the physicians in question have been convicted of sexual crimes.
One of them is a Swedish doctor in his 40s who was convicted of raping a victim that was 13 and 14 years of age at the times of the two sexual assaults. The physician also asked the young teen to pose sexually in photographs and also shared child sexual abuse images with his victim. The doctor was handed a three-year prison sentence and lost his licence to practise medicine in Sweden, but still holds his medical credentials in Finland.
Svenska Yle's team requested data about all doctors who have had their rights restricted in Sweden and then compared that list of names to physicians licensed to practise medicine in Finland, which are listed on a database belonging to Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health.
That comparative search resulted in 19 matches. A dozen of the doctors on the list who are still practising in Finland have entirely lost their medical credentials in Sweden.
Two of the 19 physicians were ordered to three-year probationary periods by Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare, while three others had their prescription-writing rights limited. One of the physicians faced both a three-year probation period as well as limited prescription writing rights.
CSAM, snooping, mistakes
The database comparison found that one physician had lost a licence to practise medicine in both countries, but still retained the right to work as a family care professional.
The questionable behaviour of a physician found on the list has recently been noticed in Finland. The 49-year-old doctor lost his professional credentials after he was convicted of possession of child sexual abuse materials.
After his conviction, the man changed his name and worked at least in Ostrobothnia for the private care firm Mehiläinen and in the public sector.
Published on Tuesday, Svenska Yle's report continues to list a number of physicians who ran afoul of authorities in Sweden but continued to work in Finland, at least to some degree.
One of them was a 70-year-old man who lost his medical credentials in Sweden after authorities discovered the man had conducted more than 1,000 searches in a patient database. Among other things, he granted himself administrator rights in the database system by using a colleague's login details, and then created his own account.
That man lives in Åland and still retains the right to work as a doctor in Finland.
Another case involved a 59-year-old woman who lost her medical licence in Sweden due to 18 treatment errors. Among those mistakes she prescribed a 12-year-old patient a potentially addictive medication that was not approved for use by minors.
The female doctor also prescribed an 80-year-old woman fentanyl patches with a starting dose of 100 micrograms — despite that recommended starting doses of the painkilling drug is 12 micrograms. The female physician continues to hold a medical licence in Finland.
In addition to these cases, Svenska Yle found that another seven doctors had their licences revoked in Sweden and six more were placed on probation or had their licences restricted in Sweden.
The reasons for the revocations or restrictions included problems with alcohol or addictive drugs, as well as assault or drink driving convictions.
Of all the doctors in question, only one had their right revoked to practise medicine in Finland, while two others were ordered to be placed under administrative supervision.
Law in the books
Helena Mönttinen is director of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira), the agency which grants the right for physicians to practise the profession.
Mönttinen said that Valvira is not able to limit or revoke the professional rights of doctors who have committed crimes or been found guilty of malpractice in Sweden.
"Valvira investigates whether a doctor poses a danger to patient safety in Finland. According to the law, a doctor needs to commit a serious crime while working here for us to intervene," Mönttinen explained, adding that current laws do not prevent doctors who have committed a crime in their private lives from practising medicine.
When doctors apply for permission to practise medicine in Finland, they are required to submit documentation proving that they are not limited or forbidden to practise the profession in Sweden. Valvira also consults an EU-wide register about such information, according to Möttönen.
Valvira has received information from Swedish authorities about all 18 of the doctors that were on Svenska Yle's list. The agency has opened investigations about some of those physicians, but those probes are still confidential.
Such investigations first involve determining whether the doctor has already worked in Finland. But because there is no register on where doctors work in Finland, Valvira goes to the Finnish Centre for Pensions for information about who paid the doctors' salaries.
"Generally, if there was malpractice in Sweden, it is grounds for us to carry out an investigation," Valvira's director said.
It turned out that four of the doctors on Svenska Yle's list have worked on Åland, one of them remains employed in the local health care sector. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, you can contact Dignity4Patients, whose helpline is open Monday to Thursday 10am to 4pm.