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Children's Day tragedy: 5-year-old dies after failure to find ER bed

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : May 17, 2023 - 15:37

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A 5-year-old with acute respiratory symptoms had died on the Children's Day weekend, earlier this month, after five hospitals refused to admit him, local media reported Tuesday.

According to the reports, the boy was rushed to the emergency room of a hospital in Seoul when his body temperature began to spike and he begin having breathing issues at night on May 6, Saturday. But the hospital said it was unable to admit him, citing lack of available beds.

The boy was turned back by four other hospitals by either lack of room or staff, before the fifth hospital agreed to treat him only as an outpatient, diagnosed him with acute laryngotracheobronchitis and sent him home.

As the boy's breathing issues continued, his mother was about to take him back to the hospital when the child collapsed. He was rushed to the nearest emergency room but died just 40 minutes after arrival.

This photo is not directly related to the article. (123rf) This photo is not directly related to the article. (123rf)

Officials at the fifth hospital claimed that its medical staff gave the boy clearance to go home after confirming that his conditions were stable.

The case is the latest in a series in which seriously ill people have died after being unable to find doctors and hospitals to treat them. A severe supply-demand mismatch is hampering medical services in critical disciplines, with pediatrics and cardiothoracic surgery among the areas where the shortage of doctors are most acute.