City officials revealed on Tuesday that in January a 75 year old man died after his ambulance was turned away from 25 different hospitals 36 times over a two-hour period. The reason for such terrible treatment? The emergency rooms all stated that they had no beds or doctors available and were unable to provide treatment.
The unidentified man was said to have lived alone in Kuki, Saitama Prefecture, a small city north of Tokyo, when he began having breathing problems one January day. The city official stated that while the paramedics were able to quickly reach the man and prepare him for transport, all 25 hospitals in the surrounding areas said they could not accept him because there weren’t enough doctors or free beds. While several of the hospitals were called more than once, the paramedics eventually had to take the man to an emergency room in neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture, a drive that took around 20 minutes. The man’s cause of death has not been revealed, be unfortunately he was pronounced dead just after his arrival.
One of the paramedics from the incident spoke to Japan’s Jiji Press, saying that they had never had a patient turned away from a hospital so many times on one occasion. Officials in Kuki have urged local hospitals to begin improving the capacity of their emergency rooms. But this situation could be repeated in the future, as Japan’s population becomes increasingly made up of elderly who are living longer, in combination with a declining birthrate, means there is an upside-down triangle formed, where the younger generations aren’t as able to take care of the older, both in terms of the social security system or by entering the workforce. In this case, it would be the healthcare field that may become increasingly strained.
[via Global Post]