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An emergency department (ED) presentation occurs following the arrival of the patient at the ED, and commencesat the point of being registered or triaged.
Explore the number of presentations to Australia’s public hospital EDs between 2015–16 and 2019–20 in the data visualisation below.
Information is presented by:
The data can also be explored by:
What other information is available?
Appendix information is available to download in the Info and downloads section.
Reports released prior to 2017–18 can be accessed in the Reports section.
Further information about the concepts on this page can be found in the Glossary.
Emergency department (ED) waiting time is the time elapsed for each patient from presentation in the ED to commencement of clinical care.
The data visualisation below present the following emergency department waiting time statistics:
The data is presented by:
By selecting a geography in the visualisation below, the data can also be explored by:
Appendixes are available to download in the Info and downloads section.
Previous reports can be accessed in the Reports section.
The data in this section relates to the waiting times of people who presented to the ED with a type of visit of Emergency presentation.
The progress of the patient through the ED is recorded using 5 different time points: presentation time, triage time, clinical care commencement,
episode end time and physical departure time, as depicted in Figure 1.
These can be used to calculate the waiting times for 50% and 90% of patients, as well as the proportion of patients seen on time.
The waiting time is calculated as the time between arrival at the ED and commencement of clinical care.
An emergency department (ED) stay is the period between a patient presenting at an ED, and when that person is recorded as having physically departed the ED (regardless of whether they were admitted, referred, discharged or left at their own risk).
The data visualisation below presents the most recent data on the proportion of patients with a length of stay of 4 hours or less by:
Previous emergency department care reports can be accessed in the Reports section.
Elective surgery activity is measured by the number of additions to and removals from public hospital elective surgery waiting lists, and the number of patients admitted for their awaited procedure.
This data visualisation below presents information on additions, removals and admissions in 2019–20 and changes between 2015–16 and 2019–20.
Information is also presented by:
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, the total number of removals from public hospital elective surgery waiting lists increased, on average, by 2.3% each year.
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, admissions increased, on average, by 2.1% per year, however, in 2019–20, admissions from waiting lists was 9.2% lower than 2018–19, due to cancellation of non-urgent elective surgery.
To explore elective surgery waiting times by hospital or LHN see My local area.
Appendixes and caveat information for this data is available to download in the Info and downloads section.
Definitions of the terms used in this section are available in the Glossary.
The surgical speciality describes the area of clinical expertise held by the doctor performing the elective surgery. This section presents information on the type of elective surgery provided, by surgical speciality in 2019–20 and changes between 2015–16 and 2019–20
Information on 11 categories of surgical speciality is presented. The ‘other’ category contains data for surgeons whose speciality was not one of the 11 specified categories. From 1 July 2016, surgical speciality was revised to include Paediatric surgery.
The data visualisation below presents elective surgery waiting list additions, removals and admissions by state and territory between 2015–16 and 2019–20.
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20:
The intended surgical procedure describes the type of elective surgery provided by public hospitals.
In the data visualisations below, you can explore admissions from elective surgery waiting lists by:
Between 2018–19 and 2019–20:
There were relatively large decreases in admissions for Varicose veins treatment (29.5%) and Myringotomy (25.5%).
The length of time waited by patients on public hospital elective surgery waiting lists before being admitted for surgery between 2015–16 and 2019–20. Waiting times for elective surgery can vary depending on:
In the data visualisation below, you can explore waiting times for elective surgery by peer group and clinical urgency category.
50th percentile (median) waiting time
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, the waiting time of 50% of patients:
90th percentile waiting time
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, the 90th percentile waiting time:
Patients who waited more than 365 days
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, the proportion of patients who waited more than 365 days to be admitted:
When a patient is placed on the public hospital elective surgery waiting list, a clinical assessment is made of the urgency within which they require elective surgery (the clinically recommended time). The proportion of patients seen within the recommended time is the percentage of patients removed from elective surgery waiting lists who were admitted for surgery within the clinically recommended time for each clinical urgency category.
The ‘overdue wait’ is the amount of time spent waiting while overdue—that is, after 30, 90 or 365 days for clinical urgency categories 1, 2 and 3, respectively. The average overdue wait time (in days) is calculated for patients who were still waiting for their elective surgery as at 30 June 2018, who were ready for care, and who had waited beyond the recommended time.
Due to the lack of comparability of clinical urgency categories between states and territories, these data are presented for each state and territory separately.
The surgical speciality describes the area of clinical expertise held by the doctor performing the elective surgery.
In the data visualisation below, you can explore elective surgery waiting times by surgical speciality for 2019–20 and between 2015–16 and 2019–20. Waiting times are presented at national, state and territory, LHN, and hospital level.
Waiting list statistics for intended surgical procedures can indicate performance in particular areas of elective surgery. Information on the types of elective surgery provided by public hospitals is shown by the intended surgical procedure, for selected procedures only.
In the data visualisations below, you can explore elective surgery waiting times by:
In 2019–20, for the top 25 intended procedures:
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20, for the 15 indicator procedures:
Various types of care are provided to admitted patients. The care type describes the overall nature of a clinical service provided to an admitted patient during an episode of care. Care type can be classified as:
In the data visualisation below you can explore the number of hospitalisations by care type for public and private hospitals between 2014–15 and
2018–19, and by hospital, between 2011–12 to 2018–19.
In 2018–19, for the public and private sectors combined:
The proportions of hospitalisations for each care type varied by hospital sector. Public hospitals accounted for 62% of hospitalisations for Acute care, while private hospitals accounted for 80% of hospitalisations for Rehabilitation care.
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19 the number of hospitalisations for Acute care increased by 3.4% on average per year for public hospitals, and by 1.0% per year for private hospitals.
This section presents information on Newborn care provided for 2018–19. Newborns receiving care may have both ‘qualified’ and ‘unqualified’ days. (Refer to below ‘More information about the data’ section to find definitions for qualified and unqualified care)
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19:
Between 2014–15 and 2018–19, Rehabilitation care rose by an average of 5.0% per year in private hospitals and fell by 2.3% per year in public hospitals.
Palliative care is defined as care in which the primary clinical purpose or treatment goal is optimisation of the quality of life of a patient with an active and advanced life-limiting illness.
Mental health care is defined as care in which the primary clinical purpose or treatment goal is improvement in the symptoms and/or psychosocial, environmental and physical functioning related to a patient’s mental disorder.
For 2018–19, mental health care refers to hospitalisations for which the care type was reported as Mental health. The care type Mental health was introduced from 1 July 2015. Prior to this, mental health admitted patient activity was assigned to one of the other care types.
What other information is available?
More information, Appendixes and caveat information, and data tables are available in the Info & downloads section.
Definitions of the terms used in this section are availabe in the Glossary.
An episode of Acute care for an admitted patient is one in which the principal clinical intent is to do one or more of the following:
Rehabilitation care is care in which the primary clinical purpose or treatment goal is improvement in the functioning of a patient with an impairment, activity limitation, or participation restriction due to a health condition.
Rehabilitation care is always:
Palliative care is defined as care in which the primary clinical purpose or treatment goal is optimisation of the quality of life of a patient with an active and advanced life-limiting illness. The patient will have complex physical, psychosocial and/or spiritual needs.
Palliative care is always:
Mental health care:
Mental health care differs from mental health-related care reported in AIHW Mental health services reports. A separation is classified as mental health-related if:
A day is considered ‘qualified’ for health insurance benefits purposes when a newborn meets at least 1 of the following criteria:
A newborn admission to hospital can occur at any time within the first 9 days of life, including at the time of birth.
The reporting of unqualified newborns has changed over time and varies across jurisdictions. Prior to 2017–18, newborn episodes involving unqualified care were routinely excluded from national reporting on the basis that they didn’t meet admission criteria for all purposes. However, due to changes in Newborn care practices (such as care being provided to unqualified newborns on the ward rather than in a special care nursery) stakeholders have expressed interest in the reporting of all newborn episodes, regardless of qualification status. Newborn care is reported in this section in total, or for both qualified and unqualified newborns, as indicated.
The COVID-19 pandemic affected many areas of people’s lives, including their use of health services such as hospitals. It also highlighted the importance of good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of disease. In response to COVID-19, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care promoted greater emphasis on using audit data to inform local quality improvement activities, and made Audit 2 (1 April to 30 June), 2020 voluntary for data submission. Audit 1 (1 November to 31 March) and Audit 3 (1 July to 31 October) remained mandatory for 2020.
In hospitals, patients are at greater risk of getting an infection because they may be undergoing invasive procedures, have weakened immune systems or may have a pre-existing infection. In addition to reducing the likelihood of transmitting viruses such as COVID-19 or influenza, good hand hygiene is a key first line defence to prevent or reduce hospital-acquired infections, including Staphylococcus aureus (‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SAB).
Hand hygiene in hospitals generally refers to the washing of hands or use of alcohol-based rubs by healthcare workers. The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed the following posters on performing hand hygiene:
Hand hygiene rates are calculated by dividing the number of correct observed hand hygiene moments by the number of observed moments by auditors in a specified audit period. In a hospital, good hand hygiene is important and there are particular occasions when the risk of transmitting disease is increased. These are:
These are known as hand hygiene opportunities or ‘moments’. Moments are defined in the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines on Hand Hygiene. In Australia, these moments have been modified slightly to reflect our healthcare conditions. See the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare’s website for more information on hand hygiene moments.
To measure how often healthcare workers in hospitals perform hand hygiene at these important moments, audits are continuously undertaken and reported three times a year.
The National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI) aims to educate and promote correct hand hygiene practice in all Australian hospitals, and includes auditing and reporting processes for hospitals to measure how they are performing against the benchmark determined by the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council. This benchmark has been progressively increasing and is now set at 80%. The performance of all participating hospitals has also been increasing across the country.
The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) coordinates the NHHI and has a range of resources available to support the continuing implementation of improved hand hygiene and the NHHI. The AIHW reports on hand hygiene rates for individual hospitals on the MyHospitals website. This can be explored below.
In the data visualisation below you can explore information on hand hygiene rates by hospital between 2010–2020.
The National Hand Hygiene Initiative (NHHI) has been in operation for ten years, supported by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, and since 1 November 2019, the Commission has coordinated and supported all aspects of the NHHI. Hand hygiene is a key element of a comprehensive suite of initiatives to prevent and reduce healthcare-associated infections in Australian healthcare settings.
The NHHI is implemented by states, territories and private health service organisations, and includes auditing of hand hygiene practice as well as educational and promotional activities.
Hand hygiene data are provided by state and territory health authorities for public hospitals and by individual private hospitals. The data are derived from audits of hand hygiene moments that are conducted continuously over three reporting periods each year. These audit periods are:
Hospitals provide information on hand hygiene by providing the total number of moments observed and the total numbers of correct moments observed. The rate is then generated from these validated data.
Further information on the data collection process is described in the NHHI Manual.
Hand hygiene (HH) is a general term applying to the use of soap/solution (non-antimicrobial or antimicrobial) and water, or a waterless antimicrobial agent (e.g. alcohol-based handrub) to the surface of the hands (HHA, 2019).
Hand hygiene compliance is defined when HH is performed when considered necessary and is classified according to one of the “5 Moments”. If the action is performed outside of these Moments, then it is not included in the compliance audit.
The number of Moments observed constitutes the denominator for assessing HH compliance. The actual HH actions undertaken are compared to the number of Moments observed to calculate the rate of HH compliance (HHA, 2019). The rate is rounded to one decimal place.
HH non-compliance is defined when there is an indication for HH (i.e. a “Moment”) and yet no HH was undertaken.
Hand hygiene compliance rates are based on audits from a sample of hand hygiene moments, and 95% confidence intervals are provided for all breakdowns.
A ‘confidence interval’ is a statistical term describing the range (‘interval’) within which we can be sure (‘confident’) the true rate falls. Confidence intervals indicate the reliability of the estimated rate and are calculated using data provided by hospitals.
When only a small number of moments are audited (for example, those associated with particular healthcare worker types), the confidence interval will be wider, indicating there is less certainty regarding the true compliance rate. When a large number of moments are audited, the confidence interval will be narrower, indicating there is more certainty regarding the true rate.
Confidence intervals are used to assess whether or not the compliance rate for the sample of moments meets the benchmark. If the confidence interval includes the value of the benchmark 80%, then that figure is considered to have met the benchmark.
In 2015, the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council agreed to:
Hand Hygiene Australia 2019. Glossary of Terms. Melbourne: HHA
Last updated 25/03/2021 v24.0
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus, or ‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SABSI) associated with hospital care can be serious, particularly when bacteria are resistant to common antimicrobials. SABSI can be acquired after a patient receives medical care or treatment in a hospital. Contracting SABSI while in hospital can be life threatening and hospitals aim to have as few cases as possible.
This measure is sourced from the National Staphylococcus aureus Bacteraemia Data Collection (NSABDC). Data for public hospitals are provided by state and territory health authorities, while data for participating private hospitals are provided on a voluntary basis by individual private hospitals and private sector hospital groups. In 2020, the Victorian government granted an exemption to all Victorian hospitals from reporting routine surveillance during the period 1 April to 31 December inclusive due to some hospitals having resource issues due to pandemic response requirements. This included an exemption from submitting data on SABSI and hand hygiene audits.
The current nationally agreed benchmark set under the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) is no more than 2.0 cases of healthcare-associated SABSI per 10,000 days of patient care for public hospitals in each state and territory.
In the data visualisation below you can explore information on healthcare associated infections by hospital between 2010–11 and 2019–20.
Changes over time
Between 2015–16 and 2019–20:
Private hospitals participate in the NSABDC on a voluntary basis. The casemix of patients treated in private hospitals may also be different to that in public hospitals, therefore direct comparisons are unreliable. Not all private hospitals report data so reported data may not be representative of the sector as a whole.
In the absence of focused clinical studies, the relationship between Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream infections and COVID-19 is unclear. However, the impact of hand washing as means of combatting rates of infection transmission is significant. Between 2009 and 2017, among Australia's 132 major public hospitals, improved hand hygiene compliance was associated with declines in the incidence of healthcare-associated SABSI (incidence rate ratio 0.85; 95% CI 0.79–0.93; p≤0.0001) (Grayson et al., 2018). For every 10% increase in hand hygiene compliance, the incidence of healthcare-associated SABSI decreased by 15%.
NSABDC Data Quality Statement
National Healthcare Agreement: PI 22-Healthcare associated infections: Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia
Appendixes and caveat information is available on the About the data page.
Data for public hospitals are provided by state and territory health authorities. Data for private hospitals are voluntarily provided by individual private hospitals and private sector hospital groups. The nationally agreed benchmark set under the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) is no more than 2.0 cases of healthcare-associated SABSI per 10,000 days of patient care for public hospitals in each state and territory.
Note that the national benchmark changed to 1.0 cases per 10,000 patient days under surveillance from 1 July 2020. This will apply to NSABDC data from 2020–21.
The SABSI rate is calculated as the number of healthcare-associated cases of S. aureus divided by the total number of patient days under surveillance (x 10,000).
Rates based on less than 5,000 patient days under surveillance are denoted as NP.
If the surveillance rate (patient days under surveillance/total number of patient days) is less than 95%, the rate is reported as interpret with caution (using the symbol *), as the sample under surveillance may not be representative of the hospital.
A case (patient-episode) of SABSI is defined as a positive blood culture for S. aureus. For surveillance purposes, only the first isolate per patient is counted, unless at least 14 days has passed without a positive blood culture, after which an additional episode is recorded.
A case of SABSI is considered to be healthcare-associated if the first positive blood culture is collected more than 48 hours after hospital admission or less than 48 hours after discharge, or if the first positive blood culture is collected 48 hours or less after admission and one or more of the following clinical criteria was met for the case of S. aureus:
The definition of healthcare-associated S. aureus was developed by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission). The Commission changed the definition in 2016, with clarification of the neutropenia criterion above. This definition of a healthcare-associated case of S. aureus was used by all states and territories for the 2015–16, 2016–17, 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 reporting years.
Patient days under surveillance
Patient days under surveillance is the total number of days of admitted patient care under surveillance by infection control surveillance systems within the hospital.
Antimicrobial resistance occurs when some of the bacteria that cause infections resist the effects of the medicines used to treat them. This may lead to ‘treatment failure’, or the inability to treat the cause of the infection (Department of Health, 2020). Methicillin is an antimicrobial used to treat SABSI.
A case of SABSI that is identified by a laboratory as being caused by a methicillin-resistant strain of S. aureus is referred to as MRSA. A SABSI case that is identified by a laboratory as being caused by a S. aureus strain that is sensitive to commonly used antimicrobials (methicillin-sensitive) is referred to as MSSA.
SABSI caused by MRSA may cause more harm to patients and is associated with poorer patient outcomes as there are fewer antimicrobials available to treat the infection.
More information on antimicrobial resistance is available from the Department of Health website.
Grayson ML, Stewardson AJ, Russo PL, Ryan KE, Olsen KL, Havers SM et al. 2018. Effects of the Australian National Hand Hygiene Initiative after 8 years on infection control practices, health-care worker education, and clinical outcomes. The Lancet. 18 (11), 1269-1277.
Length of stay is the number of days between admission to hospital, and separation. The Average Length of Stay (ALOS) is calculated as the total number of patient days reported for the hospital (or group of hospitals), divided by the number of hospitalisations.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) presents comparative information on the ALOS for overnight hospitalisations as an indicator of efficiency. The comparability of international ALOS may be affected by differences in definitions of hospitals, collection periods and admission practices.
The ALOS for selected AR-DRGs is an indicator of Efficiency and sustainability under the Australian Health Performance Framework (AHPF).
In the data visualisation below, you can view the ALOS by selected medical procedures, by state and territory, and by type of hospital (peer group).
Significant changes in ALOS over time may be related to changes in admission practices and improvements in the coverage of reporting.
Average length of stay
The average length of stay (ALOS) is calculated as the total number of patient days reported for the hospital (or group of hospitals), divided by the number of separations. Two measures for ALOS are presented:
Performance indicator: Average length of stay for selected AR-DRGs
The ALOS for selected AR-DRGs is an indicator of Efficiency and sustainability under the Australian Health Performance Framework (AHPF). The selected AR-DRGs were chosen on the basis of:
Due to changes in the AR-DRG classification, the data presented here are not comparable with the data presented in previous years.
A specialised service unit is a facility or unit dedicated to the treatment or care of patients with particular conditions or characteristics, such as an intensive care unit.
In 2018–19, the most common specialised service units offered by public hospitals were:
There were 83 intensive care units (level III and above), and 30 Neonatal intensive care units (level III and above).
The data visualisation below provides a list of selected services provided by individual hospitals, including specialised care units, in the 2018-19 reporting period.
The information about services provided by a particular hospital is intended as a general guide only. There is the potential for some omissions or errors in this information and readers should contact a hospital directly for the latest advice on the services available.
A list of the types of specialised units is available in the more information about the data section below.
Types of specialised service unit include:
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) unit - A specialised facility dedicated to the treatment of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients.
Acute renal dialysis unit - A specialised facility dedicated to dialysis of renal failure patients requiring acute care.
Acute spinal cord injury unit - A specialised facility dedicated to the initial treatment and subsequent ongoing management and rehabilitation of patients with acute spinal cord injury, largely conforming to Australian Health Minister’s Advisory Council guidelines for service provision.
Alcohol and drug unit - A facility/service dedicated to the treatment of alcohol and drug dependence.
Bone marrow transplantation unit - A specialised facility for bone marrow transplantation.
Burns unit (level III) - A specialised facility dedicated to the initial treatment and subsequent rehabilitation of the severely injured burns patient (usually >10 per cent of the patient’s body surface affected).
Cardiac surgery unit - A specialised facility dedicated to operative and peri-operative care of patients with cardiac disease.
Clinical genetics unit - A specialised facility dedicated to diagnostic and counselling services for clients who are affected by, at risk of, or anxious about genetic disorders.
Comprehensive epilepsy centre - A specialised facility dedicated to seizure characterisation, evaluation of therapeutic regimes, pre-surgical evaluation and epilepsy surgery for patients with refractory epilepsy.
Coronary care unit - A specialised facility dedicated to acute care services for patients with cardiac diseases.
Diabetes unit - A specialised facility dedicated to the treatment of diabetics.
Domiciliary care service - A facility/service dedicated to the provision of nursing or other professional paramedical care or treatment and non-qualified domestic assistance to patients in their own homes or in residential institutions not part of the establishment.
Geriatric assessment unit - Facilities dedicated to the Commonwealth-approved assessment of the level of dependency of (usually) aged individuals either for purposes of initial admission to a long-stay institution or for purposes of reassessment of dependency levels of existing long-stay institution residents.
Heart, lung transplantation unit - A specialised facility for heart including heart lung transplantation.
Hospice care unit - A facility dedicated to the provision of palliative care to terminally ill patients.
In-vitro fertilisation unit - A specialised facility dedicated to the investigation of infertility provision of in-vitro fertilisation services.
Infectious diseases unit - A specialised facility dedicated to the treatment of infectious diseases.
Intensive care unit (level III) - A specialised facility dedicated to the care of paediatric and adult patients requiring intensive care and sophisticated technological support services.
Liver transplantation unit - A specialised facility for liver transplantation.
Maintenance renal dialysis centre - A specialised facility dedicated to maintenance dialysis of renal failure patients. It may be a separate facility (possibly located on hospital grounds) or known as a satellite centre or a hospital-based facility but is not a facility solely providing training services.
Major plastic/reconstructive surgery unit - A specialised facility dedicated to general purpose plastic and specialised reconstructive surgery, including maxillofacial, microsurgery and hand surgery.
Neonatal intensive care unit (level III) - A specialised facility dedicated to the care of neonates requiring care and sophisticated technological support. Patients usually require intensive cardiorespiratory monitoring, sustained assistance ventilation, long-term oxygen administration and parenteral nutrition.
Neurosurgical unit - A specialised facility dedicated to the surgical treatment of neurological conditions.
Nursing home care unit - A facility dedicated to the provision of nursing home care.
Obstetric/maternity - A specialised facility dedicated to the care of obstetric/maternity patients.
Oncology unit, cancer treatment - A specialised facility dedicated to multidisciplinary investigation, management, rehabilitation and support services for cancer patients. Treatment services include surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Pancreas transplantation unit - A specialised facility for pancreas transplantation.
Psychiatric unit/ward - A specialised unit/ward dedicated to the treatment and care of admitted patients with psychiatric, mental, or behavioural disorders.
Rehabilitation unit - Dedicated units within recognised hospitals which provide post-acute rehabilitation and are designed as such by the State health authorities.
Renal transplantation unit - A specialised facility for renal transplantation.
Sleep centre - A specialised facility linked to a sleep laboratory dedicated to the investigation and management of sleep disorders.
Specialist paediatric - A specialised facility dedicated to the care of children aged 14 or less is provided within an establishment.
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