Discharge against medical advice
People who choose to leave hospital before completing treatment provides indirect evidence of how well hospital services are meeting patients’ needs.
Nationally, 24,278 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander hospitalisations for Indigenous patients were discharged at their own risk between July 2017 and June 2019. In general, the proportion of hospitalisations for Indigenous Australians where the patient was discharged at their own risk increased with remoteness of usual residence (ranging from 3% of all hospitalisations for people living in Major cities to 7.3% in Very remote areas), the exception being for those living in Inner regional areas who were the least likely to leave at their own risk (2.3%) (Figure 6.9).
Over the decade 2009–10 to 2018–19, in the six jurisdictions with adequate Indigenous identification in hospitals data over the period considered (NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, SA and NT), the age-standardised proportion of hospitalisations for Indigenous Australians ending with discharge at own risk declined from 4.4% to 3.8%. In contrast, the age-standardised proportion for non-Indigenous Australians increased from 0.6% to 0.7%. However, these changes were not statistically significant (Figure 6.9).
Figure 6.9: Proportion of hospitalisations (excluding dialysis) where the patient was discharged at own risk, for Indigenous Australians by remoteness area (crude proportion, July 2017 to June 2019), and by Indigenous status (age-standardised, 2009–10 to 2018–19)
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