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No. of emergency patients rejected by hospitals doubled compared to same period of previous year

  • May 1, 2020
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 23
  • JMH Translation

With the ongoing spread of COVID-19, Japan is seeing more and more cases nationwide where emergency patients are rejected by hospital after hospital. During a one-week period in late April, a total of 1,656 cases were seen where an ambulance carrying an emergency patient contacted multiple hospitals and still was unable to find a medical facility that would take their passenger.


Local governments’ fire departments at 52 locations handled these cases and reported their numbers to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, which released the figure on April 30. Cases where a hospital could not be found for an emergency patient essentially doubled compared with the same one-week period of the preceding year. The number increased apparently because medical facilities refused to accept emergency patients out of concern that they may have the novel coronavirus.


When a local fire department responds to a call for an ambulance, it inquiries at medical institutes to see whether they can accept the patient. If the rescue staff is still unable to find a medical facility that will accept the patient after inquiring at four different medical institutions, the case is classified as “difficult.” The Fire and Disaster Management Agency tallied the number of such cases reported by major fire departments in all prefectures for the period from April 20 to 26.


The following fire departments recorded a marked increase in such cases over the same period of the previous year: Tokyo Fire Department (increase of 520 cases); Osaka Municipal Fire Department (66); and Sapporo City Fire Department (46). Meanwhile, the Fukuoka Fire Prevention Bureau and the Kawasaki City Fire Department saw a 575% and 371% increase, respectively. Overall, Japan saw a 91% increase.

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