Potentially preventable hospitalisations
Potentially preventable hospitalisations signal an unmet need for primary health care. They are hospital admissions that could have been avoided through preventive measures like vaccination, or through timely and effective diagnosis and treatment outside the hospital setting.
From July 2017 to June 2019, 92,019 hospitalisations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were potentially preventable. This equates to a rate of 55 potentially preventable hospitalisations per 1,000 Indigenous Australians.
After adjusting for differences in the age-structure between the two populations, the rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations for Indigenous Australians was 2.8 times as high as the rate for non-Indigenous Australians.
The age-standardised rate of preventable hospitalisations among Indigenous Australians has increased since 2013–14 for both Indigenous males and Indigenous females (Figure 6.6).
Figure 6.6: Preventable hospitalisation rates (age-standardised), by Indigenous status and sex, 2013–14 to 2018–19
Among Indigenous Australians in 2017–19, the rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations was highest for those living in Remote areas (104 hospitalisations per 1,000 population), followed by those in Very remote areas (95 per 1,000). The rate was lowest for those in Major cities (39 per 1,000) (Figure 6.7).
Figure 6.7: Preventable hospitalisations by remoteness area, Indigenous Australians, July 2017 to June 2019
From July 2017 to June 2019, the top 5 causes of potentially preventable hospitalisations among Indigenous Australians accounted for almost half (48% or 44,192) of all potentially preventable hospitalisations. These included:
- 10,810 (12%) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) hospitalisations (6.5 per 1,000)
- 9,954 (11%) hospitalisations for cellulitis – a bacterial skin condition (6 per 1,000)
- 7,990 (8.7%) hospitalisations for ENT infections (4.8 per 1,000)
- 7,774 (8.4%) hospitalisations for convulsions and epilepsy (4.7 per 1,000)
- 7,664 (8.3%) hospitalisations for diabetes complications (4.6 per 1,000) (Figure 6.8).
Figure 6.8: Top 5 causes of potentially preventable hospitalisations among Indigenous Australians, July 2017 to June 2019
After adjusting for differences in the age-structure between the two populations, the rate of hospitalisations for the top 5 potentially preventable conditions was higher for Indigenous Australians than non-Indigenous Australians (ranging between 2.1 and 5.1 times as high).
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