25 hospitals turned a dying man down from their emergency rooms 36 times over the course of two hours, each saying that they had either a shortage of beds or doctors to admit him, an official has explained Tuesday. The incident took place in Japan, and ultimately led to the man's death, in a case that has alarmed the east Asian country.
A 75 year old Japanese man, who lives alone in a city north of Tokyo, was the victim of the tragic circumstances in January. He had called emergency services, reporting that he was suffering severe breathing problems at his residence.
Paramedics were rushed out to his location where they gave him some initial treatment, but then worked in vain to get him admitted to a hospital to receive more substantial treatment required to save his life.
Amazingly they were said to have been rejected by all 25 hospitals within distance of the man's home - all saying that the man could not be accepted because they did not have enough beds or doctors, a local city official reported to media. The official also confirmed that numerous hospitals were contacted more than once as the situation became increasingly desperate for the elderly man.
After the long search the ambulance finally found a hospital in neighboring Ibaraki prefecture, according to AFP. However, after the huge delay in finding a hospital and the 20 minute journey time to the institution that finally accepted him, the man was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
Officials have not yet revealed the cause of death publicly, but the incident has sparked huge backlash in the country.
According to Jiji Press, one of the paramedics desperately trying to get the man to a hospital confessed that he had never experienced anything like it - that a patient would be "rejected so many times."
It has been reported that the city of Kuki has now ordered the hospitals in the region to increase their emergency room capabilities so that a similar incident will not happen again.
The incident has highlighted to many Japan's growing problem of a booming population that is living longer without the healthcare and infrastructure to take care of it. Some analysts have warned that healthcare in the country, generally thought to be of a high standard, will become increasingly put under pressure in the coming years if measures are not taken.