Sweden: Palestinian doctor refuses to treat American

An American woman has been refused treatment by a doctor in Blekinge in southern Sweden because of her ethnicity. The woman's husband has now reported the incident to the Medical Responsibility Board.

Valery Johansson, who lives in a small town just outside Nashville, Tennessee, was in Sweden to celebrate Christmas with her husband's family.

On Christmas Day, worried that she may have contracted strep throat, she sought medical help. Her husband and niece made an appointment for her at a clinic in the town of Karlshamn.

"We went up there and the nurses were really nice. They did some swab tests, which they then passed on to a doctor," Johansson told The Local.

But when the American woman, accompanied by her husband and niece, went to meet the doctor in his treatment room, he declined to examine her.

Rather than introduce himself, the doctor waved the patient's papers and shouted "she doesn't have strep throat, she doesn't have strep throat". He then added that he would not treat her.

"He said he didn't like Americans," said Johansson.

He also disliked hearing English spoken in his treatment room and soon walked out.

"We just couldn't believe it. We were left standing there with our mouths hanging open," said Johansson.

According to Johansson, the doctor was a Palestinian who objected to American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Her niece followed the doctor into the office to confront him but was told: "I don't deal with people like that".

When Johansson returned to the clinic the following day she was met by a manager, who apologised and encouraged her to report the matter to the Medical Responsibility Board.

The nurses were also embarrassed by the doctor's behaviour and repaid the 820 kronor that Johansson had handed over in advance for her treatment. They too advised her to report the doctor.

In the report Johansson has written that she was discriminated against because of her ethnic background.

Before returning to the United States at the beginning of January she also intends reporting the incident to the American Embassy in Stockholm.

Source: The Local (English)


Anonymous said...

The original story says the doctor refused to treat the woman because of her "nationality," which is accurate. You changed it to "ethnicity." Why are you misusing this issue of race and racism? It's just as bad that he refused to treat her because she's American as it would be if he refused to treat her because she's (presumably) white.

Ferdy said...

Indeed, you should follow the newspeak as approved by post modern self haters:

When white -> it's nationality
When not white -> it's ethnicity


Palestinian doctor -> ethnicity -> racism
American patient -> nationality -> neutral fact

Esther said...

Hi anonymous,

Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the confusion. The original article as it appeared on Friday said exactly as quoted. The Local obviously decided that "ethnicity" was not the correct word and decided to change it.

However, note that her complaint is still based on ethnic grounds:

In the report Johansson has claimed that she was discriminated against on ethnic grounds.

My guess is that this an exact translation of the Swedish used. If I might hazard another guess: Sweden probably doesn't recognize discrimination based on "national" grounds.

If the complaint is really based on ethnicity and not on nationality, then changing the article to read "nationality" just makes it sound better for American ears and doesn't really solve the issue you bring up.

I agree that the doctor refused to treat the patient because she was American and not because of any other reason, but in this case, you're just shouting at the messenger.

I do not rephrase English language articles but bring them as-is. For articles which I translate I sometime also summarize. In general, things I bring in italics are copied as is from my original source.