25 Hospitals Turn Man Down In Japan: Why Did 36 Emergency Rooms Deny Dying Man? [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on March 6, 2013 10:21 AM EST

Japan ambulance
Paramedics raced to save an elderly man as 25 hospitals refused to admit the dying man. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Twenty-five hospitals turned down a 75-year-old man that suffered breathing problems. Three hours later, the man was dead.

The incident occurred in Kuki of the Saitama prefecture, just north of the city of Tokyo. According to reports from Agence France Presse, the man called for emergency aid and was promptly assisted by a team of paramedics. However, when the ambulance exchanged with 25 hospitals, all medical centers turned the ambulance around due to a lack of beds or doctors.

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As the 75-year-old man's condition escalated, the team of paramedics grew desperate and even attempted multiple calls to some hospitals. In total, the elderly man was turned down by 36 emergency rooms within two hours.

Speaking with the Jiji Press, a paramedic told a reporter that he has never seen "a patient rejected so many times."

Eventually, the paramedics finally made contact with a hospital in the Ibaraki prefecture that had an available bed. The hospital was only 20 minutes away, but the elderly man was pronounced dead upon the ambulance's arrival. The cause of death is not confirmed.

It was an embarrassing series of events. The man could have survived had he received proper treatment sooner. In fact, understaffed hospitals in Japan have caused similar incidents in the past.

In 2009, an elderly man required urgent medical attention after he was struck by a motorcycle. The man had to wait for at least 90 minutes before an ambulance reached him. Fourteen hospitals refused to admit the man due to a shortage of equipment and staff. Eventually, the victim died from shock caused by loss of blood.

Both incidents are just tragedies caused by a much greater problem. According to Health Insurance Carrier, more than 14,000 patients were turned down three or more times because of overcrowded hospitals in 2007. One woman was rejected nearly 50 times before she was finally treated.

Former Japanese Health Minister Yoici Masuzoe told Health Insurance Carrier that a major cause of hospital overcrowding is the increasing amount of elderly patients in the country as people in Japan live longer lives.

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