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.

Unplanned readmissions are hospitalisations for which an unplanned readmission to the same public hospital occurred within 28 days following surgery (for selected surgical procedures), and the cause of the hospitalisation (the principal diagnosis) was an adverse event. Where a patient is readmitted more than once within 28 days of the procedure, only the first readmission is included.

‘Unplanned or unexpected readmissions after surgery’ is a National Health Agreement performance indicator in the outcome area of Australians receive appropriate high quality and affordable hospital and hospital-related care. It is also a measure of continuity of care under the Australian Health Performance Framework.

This measure is regarded as an indicator of the safety of admitted patient care in hospitals. This indicator does not currently include information on all unplanned or unexpected readmissions, or readmission to another hospital. Therefore, the information presented here may differ from rates reported by states and territories.


In 2020–21:

  • rates of unplanned readmissions in public hospitals were highest for Tonsillectomy (47.9 per 1,000 separations), Prostatectomy (30.7 per 1,000 separations) and Hysterectomy (30.5 per 1,000 separations) 
  • rates of unplanned readmissions were lowest for Cataract extractions (2.9 per 1,000 separations).