Thursday, February 5, 2009

So You Think You Have Healthcare Problems?

Injured man dies after rejection by 14 hospitals

Associated Press Writer February 5, 2009

After getting struck by a motorcycle, an elderly Japanese man with head injuries waited in an ambulance as paramedics phoned 14 hospitals, each refusing to treat him.

He died 90 minutes later at the facility that finally relented - one of thousands of victims repeatedly turned away in recent years by understaffed and overcrowded hospitals in Japan.

Paramedics reached the accident scene within minutes after the man on a bicycle collided with a motorcycle in the western city of Itami. But 14 hospitals refused to admit the 69-year-old citing a lack of specialists, equipment and staff, according to Mitsuhisa Ikemoto, a fire department official.

One of the hospitals agreed to provide care when the paramedics called a second time more than an hour after the accident. But the man, who suffered head and back injuries, died soon afterward of shock from loss of blood.

The motorcyclist, also hurt in the accident, was denied admission by two hospitals before a third accepted him, Ikemoto said. He was recovering from his injuries.

Similar problems have occurred frequently in recent years. More than 14,000 emergency patients were rejected at least three times by Japanese hospitals before getting treatment in 2007, the latest government survey showed.

In the worst case, a woman in her 70s with a breathing problem was rejected 49 times in Tokyo.

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