Healthy Communities: Avoidable deaths and life expectancies in 2009–2011 - Report

Healthy Communities: Avoidable deaths and life expectancies in 2009–2011

Overview

Deaths are caused by many factors. Some deaths are caused by illnesses (such as lung cancer or heart disease) that could have been avoided by appropriate preventive action (called ‘preventable deaths’). Other deaths are caused by conditions that, while not easily avoidable themselves, can still be effectively treated given appropriate health care (called ‘treatable deaths’).

Rates of avoidable deaths per head of population can be a useful indicator of how well health systems are performing.

This is the first report from the National Health Performance Authority to breakdown avoidable death rates and life expectancy estimates by local area.

More than 33,000 Australians die on average each year from avoidable causes, comprising two-thirds of all deaths before the age of 75. Almost 40% (12,858) of these avoidable deaths could have been stopped by better medical treatment.

The report finds:

  • Across metropolitan areas rates of ‘treatable deaths’ were 61% higher in the area with the highest rate compared to the area with the lowest (66 deaths per 100,000 people in Northern Adelaide to 41 deaths per 100,000 people in Inner East Melbourne)
  • Across regional areas rates of ‘treatable deaths’ were 44% higher in the area with the highest rate compared to the area with the lowest (72 deaths per 100,000 people in New England (NSW) to 50 deaths per 100,000 people in Sunshine Coast (Qld))
  • Across rural areas rates of ‘treatable deaths’ were 83% higher in the area with the highest rate compared to the area with the lowest (110 deaths per 100,000 people in Central and North West Queensland to 60 deaths per 100,000 people in Lower Murray (Vic/NSW)).