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Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14 - Report - Overview

Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14


Potentially preventable hospitalisations are those that may have been prevented by timely access and appropriate provision of primary health care.

The fact that hospitalisations for a particular condition have been classified as ‘potentially preventable’ does not mean that a patient admitted for that condition did not need to be hospitalised at the time of admission. Rather, the rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations can be used as an indicator of patients’ access to community-based health care services and the effectiveness of these services. There are 22 conditions for which a hospitalisation is considered to be potentially preventable. This report examines age-standardised rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations for all these conditions combined, as well as five conditions that together contribute to almost half (47%) of all of potentially preventable hospitalisations and almost two-thirds (62%) of bed days for these conditions nationally. These conditions are: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes complications, heart failure, cellulitis, and kidney and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

The data are presented for 2013–14 by Primary Health Network (PHN) area and for more than 300 smaller areas of geography, known as Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s).

The report finds:

  • Nationally there were 600,267 hospitalisations for the 22 conditions for which hospitalisation is considered potentially preventable, representing 6% of the 9.7 million hospital admissions in 2013–14. Hospitalisations from both public and private hospitals are included
  • Potentially preventable hospitalisations accounted for nearly 2.4 million bed days – equivalent to 8% of all public and private hospital bed days in 2013–14
  • The age-standardised rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations was almost three times higher in some PHN areas compared to others, ranging from 1,702 hospitalisations per 100,000 people in Northern Sydney PHN to 4,891 per 100,000 in Northern Territory PHN
  • Across more than 300 local areas (SA3s) the age-standardised rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations were nine times higher in some areas compared to others, ranging from 1,406 per 100,000 people in Pennant Hills-Epping (NSW) to 12,705 hospitalisations per 100,000 in Barkly (NT).

This report is accompanied by an interactive tool allowing users to explore the data in depth for their area and compare with other local communities.

Data revision

Note: Potentially preventable hospitalisations data for 2012–13 and 2013–14 are not comparable in the report. Since publication in December 2015, figures have been revised following updates to methods and revised information from states and territories. Please see the Web update: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2015–16 for the revised results.

Infographic text

2013–14 new report looks at numbers of potentially preventable hospitalsations and resulting hospital bed days across local areas for 22 chronic, acute and vaccine-preventable conditions