Hundreds of thousands of hospital admissions potentially preventable

Paul Hayes

1/11/2018 2:58:02 PM

More than 715,000 Australians were admitted to hospital with potentially preventable presentations in 2016–17, according to new data from the AIHW.

The AIHW found that around 6% of all hospitalisations were potentially preventable.
The AIHW found that around 6% of all hospitalisations were potentially preventable.

‘It is startling that in 2018 so many patients are being admitted to hospital when they could be effectively managed in general practice,’ RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon told newsGP.
‘The fact that close to three-quarters of a million Australians were admitted to hospital – rather than having their presentation managed in the more cost-effective general practice – creates a major drain on our healthcare system.’
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report, Potentially preventable hospitalisations in Australia by small geographic areas, found there were more than 715,000 potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2016–17. This means that around 6% of all hospitalisations would have been prevented.
Potentially preventable hospitalisations accounted for more than 2.8 million bed days across Australia – the equivalent to 9% of all public and private hospital bed days.
The AIHW report provides information on 22 conditions ‘for which hospitalisation may have been prevented by timely and appropriate provision of primary or community-based healthcare’.
Those 22 conditions included three broad categories:

  • Vaccine-preventable (eg chicken pox, diphtheria, hepatitis B, measles, etc)
  • Acute (eg cellulitis, ear, nose and throat infections, urinary tract infections, etc)
  • Chronic (eg asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], diabetes complications, etc)
The majority of potentially preventable hospitalisations nationally were for chronic (47%) and acute (46%) conditions, with vaccine-preventable conditions far behind at 8%.
The national rate of age-standardised rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations was 2732 per 100,000 people. However, numbers varied significantly among different Primary Health Network (PHN) areas.

Potentially preventable hospitalisations across Primary Health Network areas, age-standardised per 100,000 people, 2016–17
Sources: AIHW analysis of the National Hospital Morbidity Database 2016–17; Australian Bureau of Statistics, Estimated Resident Population (

AIHW hospital presentations potentially preventable presentations

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Dr Evan Wayne Ackermann   1/11/2018 4:27:53 PM

The data for this is so dodgy to be non interpretable. That is why the RACGP & AIHW spent a lot of time cleaning the data toward a new indicator.


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