Japanese woman dies being refused care
By CHISAKI WATANABE, Associated Press WriterFri Dec 28, 3:55 AM ET
An 89-year-old woman died after an ambulance crew spent two hours trying 30 hospitals before finding one that would accept her for treatment, Japanese officials said Friday.
The woman's family called an ambulance early Tuesday morning after she became ill with vomiting and diarrhea, said Hideto Matsumoto, a fire official in Tondabayashi City, Osaka prefecture (state).
The ambulance crew and local fire department contacted 30 hospitals before one finally said it could admit her, Matsumoto said — about two hours after her family had called for an ambulance.
The woman's heart stopped when she was taken to Osaka Minami Medical Center, according to Matsumoto.
She was resuscitated at the hospital but died Wednesday, according to hospital official Hiroshi Tone, who refused to disclose the woman's name or cause of death, citing privacy reasons.
Matsumoto said the other hospitals rejected the woman because they were full or their doctors were not immediately available to treat her.
Last year, a pregnant woman in western Japan died after being refused admission by about 20 hospitals that said they were full.
The latest case underscores Japan's health care woes, in part created by a shortage of doctors in the country's rapidly aging society. Critics say long working hours and a government policy change several years ago to keep the number of doctors down are to blame.