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​

Potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPHs) are conditions where the hospitalisation could have potentially been prevented through the use of appropriate and individualised preventative health interventions and early disease management.  

The rate of PPHs is a National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) performance indicator, relating to the outcome Australians receive appropriate high quality and affordable primary and community health services. Selected potentially preventable hospitalisations is also an indicator of the health system’s effectiveness under the Australian Health Performance Framework.

For more information about PPHs, refer to the more information about the data section below.

Potentially preventable hospitalisations

All data in these visualisations are available for download in the Data & downloads section of the MyHospitals website.

Time series

This bar graph shows the number of potentially preventable hospitalisations per 1,000 population, between 2015–16 and 2019–20. Data is presented by type of potentially preventable hospitalisation (acute conditions, chronic conditions and vaccine preventable conditions). National data is available. In 2019–20, there were 25.5 potentially preventable hospitalisations per 1,000 population compared with 26.4 in 2015–16.


This bar graph shows the number of potentially preventable hospitalisations by public and private hospital sectors. Data is presented by type of potentially preventable hospitalisation (acute conditions, chronic conditions, vaccine preventable conditions and diabetes complications). National data is available. In 2019–20, there were 555,575 potentially preventable hospitalisations in public hospitals and 156,442 potentially preventable hospitalisations in private hospitals.


In 2020–21:

  • Just over 1 in 17 (5.7%, 672,000) of all hospitalisations were classified as PPHs
  • 3 in 4 PPHs (75%) received care in public hospitals
  • 96% of PPHs were for Acute conditions (49%) or Chronic conditions (48%) and a small proportion were for Vaccine preventable conditions (4%). A hospitalisation can classified as multiple PPH types based on relevant diagnosis records
  • almost 1 in 6 (18%) PPHs for Chronic conditions were for Diabetes complications.

Variation in PPH across population groups

In 2020–21:

  • for Indigenous Australians, the overall age standardised rate of PPHs per 1,000 population was 68, this is almost 3 times the rate for other Australians (23 per 1,000 population)
  • the overall age standardised rate of PPHs was highest for residents of Remote and Very remote areas (42 and 61 per 1,000 population, respectively) and lowest for residents of Major cities (22 per 1,000 population)
  • the age standardised rate of PPHs generally fell with increasing levels of socioeconomic advantage, ranging from 19 per 1,000 population for residents of areas classified as being in the highest SES group (least disadvantaged) to 27 per 1,000 population for residents of areas classified as being in the lowest (most disadvantaged) SES group.

Changes over time

Compared with 2019–20, in 2020–21:

  • age standardised rates of PPHs decreased from 26 per 1,000 population to 24 per 1,000 population
  • the large decrease in the number of PPHs was the greatest for Vaccine preventable conditions (58%) possibly reflecting the impact of measures implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the spread of other viral illnesses such as influenza.