One in 15 hospitalisations in Australia could have been prevented through early health interventions, according to a new report.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Disparities in potentially preventable hospitalisations across Australia 2012–13 to 2017–18 indicated potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH) could have been avoided through prevenative care measures.
Vaccination, treatment of infections and management of chronic conditions were cited as preventative care measures that could have avoided hospitalisations.
The most common cause (10%) of potentially preventable hospitalisations was chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Vaccine-preventable pneumonia and influenza, and congestive cardiac failure accounted for the most days of hospital care.
People aged 65 years and over accounted for almost half (46%) of all potentially preventable hospitalisations, and children (aged 0–14) made up 13% (1 in 8).
The report showed Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people experienced potentially preventable hospitalisations at a rate three times as high as other Australians.
“There were about 45,000 potentially preventable hospitalisations for Indigenous
Australians in 2017–18, an increase of 25% between 2012–13 and 2017–18,” AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes said.
PPH rates often increased with increasing remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage, the report said.
The gap between people living in very remote areas and major cities widened between 2012–13 and 2017–18. Similarly, the gap between people living in the lowest and highest socioeconomic areas widened for a number of conditions.
“Classifying a hospitalisation as ‘potentially preventable’ does not mean that the hospitalisation itself was unnecessary, however, it indicates that management at an earlier stage may have prevented the patient’s condition worsening to the point of hospitalisation,’ Mr Juckes said.
“It’s important to note that a higher rate of PPH doesn’t always indicate a less effective health system, but PPH are useful for identifying variations between different groups, and understanding health inequalities.”
In the future, the use of linked data sets could allow for a better understanding of the complex relationships between PPH and disease prevalence, use of primary healthcare, use of medicines and health outcomes, the report indicated.