30-hospital denial fatal to woman

Ambulance crew spent two hours finding care for 89-year-old

An 89-year-old woman in Osaka Prefecture died after an ambulance crew spent two hours trying 30 hospitals before later finding one that would accept her for treatment, officials said Friday.

The woman’s family called an ambulance early Tuesday morning after she started vomiting and suffering diarrhea the previous evening, said Hideto Matsumoto, a fire official in Tondabayashi, Osaka Prefecture.

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, he said.

Nara is now battling a scandal over the death of a 32-year-old pregnant woman who died last November as a result of being denied emergency care.

Following complications during childbirth the woman died after she was rejected at 18 hospitals in Nara. During a police investigation, hospital authorities explained they had no choice but to refuse care because of a lack of obstetric personnel and beds for babies.

A pregnant woman threatened with a premature delivery ended up having a miscarriage after about a dozen hospitals refused to accept her, forcing her to wait for more than three hours before she was finally accepted by a hospital in another city.

A hospital in Tokyo’s Arakawa-ku said that the woman, who is in her 30s, was diagnosed as facing a premature delivery on the morning of Nov. 29 last year, and needed to be transferred to a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit.

The 53-year-old head of the hospital phoned other hospitals in the Tokyo Metropolitan area asking them to accept her, but they all refused, saying their neonatal intensive care units were full. Among the institutions were several that were recognized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government as institutions providing high quality medical care.

The hospital head decided it would be difficult to find an institution in Tokyo to accept the woman, and asked another hospital in Kawasaki, where a doctor he was familiar with worked, to take her in. She finally arrived at the hospital that afternoon, but five days later she had a miscarriage.


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  1. as more than just consumers and as soon as society expects more from people than just their money…we’ll get this thing worked out.

  2. I was taken – most reluctantly – to St. Vincent’s in New York City just because I was bleeding a lot on the sidewalk I tried to remodel with my head.  St Vincent’s, I was told later by my own doctor, was where the 9/11 survivors were mostly taken.

    Not only did I not get asked about insurance or available funds but I had to track down somebody to arrange for payment to the hospital after treatment.  Sure isn’t like the old days, at least not at St. Vincent’s.

    Some people we met years ago in our business had just returned from Florida where they had intended to retire.  An ambulance called to their home in Florida refused to take the husband to the hospital for a heart attack he was suffering until the ambulance crew had assurance they would be paid.  The wife had to scratch up cash she could find in the house and among the new neighbors.  They decided retiring in New York was somewhat more healthy.

    I am really sorry to hear about Japan.  Sometimes one thinks that only the U.S. has a really deranged health care system.

    Best,  Terry

  3. The ambulance was at our house today. Someone living here has been threatening to call one for the last week and today picked up the phone.

    The ambulance arrived promptly and the folks were extremely kind. The person who called ‘changed his/her mind’ shortly after making the call and politely refused to go.

    Many hospitals close during holidays in Japan, so folks had best plan their emergencies accordingly.


    Happy Holidays.

  4. Congratulations to everyone that helped out and chipped in!


    • kj on December 29, 2007 at 18:03

    post something sarcastic, like, good grief, didn’t the 89-year-old woman realize she just needed to save everyone the trouble and find herself an ice floe to die on?  But oh right, ice floes are hard to come by these days?  but then thought, no, that’s too negative for a Saturday morning.  😐

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