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Australian healthcare continues to improve across a range of clinical areas but is in decline across parts of both maternity and mental health, according to a new national report.

The latest healthcare trends across 20 sets of key clinical indicators have been revealed in the new Australasian Clinical Indicator Report 2012-2019 (21st edition), published by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS).

Australia’s most statistically-detailed national report examining the performance of 633 healthcare organisations, the ACIR covers an eight-year period and assists HCO’s to determine their own level of performance within a national context.

The latest report found “notable deteriorations” where the potential for improvement exists. In 2019, 15 clinical indicators showed statistically significant undesirable trends.

  • Infection control – the rate of patients having blood-stream infections while on haemodialysis with arteriovenous-fistula access has increased by 32% since 2012.
  • Maternity – the rate of induction of labour for women giving birth for the first time increased from 30-45.6% of births.
  • Mental health – physical restraint continues to increase nearly threefold from 1.9 to 5.7 per 100 completed episodes, a change of 3.8 between 2012 and 2019.

Conversely, in 2019, 114 clinical indicators showed statistically significant positive trends. Improvements were recorded in anaesthesia and perioperative care, day patient, emergency medicine, gynaecology, hospital in the home, hospital-wide, infection control and intensive care. Key improvements included:

  • A reduction in adverse events in day procedure centres halving since 2013 to 2019.
  • A reduction in the number of inpatients who develop one or more pressure injuries, has declined significantly since 2015 to about four per 10,000 bed days.
  • A decline in the rate of serious adverse events from blood transfusion from 0.19 to 0.11 per 100 transfusions.

The ACIR has captured healthcare data and measured trends for almost three decades.

ACHS President, Professor Len Notaras, said the value of the report grows as the overall data increases cumulatively, especially when informed by clinicians.

“This is a valuable asset that assists in enhancing quality improvements in healthcare by building a clear understanding of where improvements as well as deteriorations are occurring.”

Read the full report here