Admitted patient safety and quality

The quality of care provided to patients admitted to hospitals can be measured in several ways. One way is to use data from hospitals to measure rates of:

  • Staphylococcus aureus (‘golden staph’) bloodstream infections (SABSI)
  • Hand hygiene compliance
  • Unplanned readmissions
  • Hospital-acquired complications and adverse events
  • Potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs).

Another way is to survey people about their experiences as hospital patients. Information gathered through hospital data and patient surveys does not cover all aspects of hospital safety and quality. Certain aspects of safety and quality—continuity of care and responsiveness of hospital services—are difficult to measure and are not included here.

Media release: Golden staph bloodstream infections continue to fall in Australian public hospitals​

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) lists 16 hospital-acquired complications for which clinical risk mitigation strategies may reduce the risk of occurrence. These hospital-acquired complications (HACs) include pressure injuries, healthcare-associated infections, delirium, malnutrition and neonatal birth trauma.


In 2020–21:

  • one or more ACSQHC hospital-acquired complications was reported for 148,600 hospitalisations from a total of 9.1 million hospitalisations that were in scope for analysis
  • just over 1 in 2 (52.7%) hospital-acquired complications was for Healthcare-associated infections affecting 78,300 hospitalisations
  • other hospital-acquired complications included Cardiac complications, Delirium and Respiratory complications
  • the 20 most common hospital-acquired complications accounted for 87% of all hospitalisations where one or more hospital-acquired complications was reported
  • the rate of hospital-acquired complications was 2.0 per 100 separations for public hospitalisations and 0.9 per 100 for private hospitalisations.

Average length of stay (ALOS) for hospitalisations with at least one hospital-acquired complication

In 2020–21:

Patients with longer lengths of stay in hospital may already have a higher risk of acquiring a complication during the episode, and the occurrence of a hospital-acquired complication may further extend the hospital stay.