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Elderly woman dies of heart attack after ER refusal

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 27, 2024 - 11:49

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

A woman in her 90s recently suffered a severe heart problem and was taken to a nearby hospital, only to die shortly after being turned away by the emergency medical staff there, local media outlets reported Wednesday.

On March 6, the Busan resident had been hit with a myocardial infarction that required an immediate operation. Rescue workers asked a university hospital in the city if the staff could handle her situation, but they said they could not.

The ambulance then took a 50-minute trip to a hospital in Ulsan, about 10 kilometers away from the patient's initial location, by which time it was too late to save her.

The woman's family filed a complaint to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, saying that her death occurred due to the mass resignation of trainee doctors and medical professors across the country. The ministry told them that there was nothing they could do, as the hospital did not break the law in turning away the patient.

The university hospital in question had a cardiologist on call, but said it had been unable to provide the necessary medical care for the patient.

South Korea has been suffering from severe shortage in medical services, including cancellation or delay of major surgeries, after the doctors' walkout began last month. The protest by the medical staff was touched off by the government's plan to increase the enrollment quota for the medical schools in the country by 2,000 by next year.