How much admitted patient care was provided?

In 2015–16, there were about 10.6 million separations (episodes of admitted patient care) in Australia’s public and private hospitals—about 59% of these occurred in public hospitals.

Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the number of separations rose by 3.5% on average each year—by 3.3% for public hospitals, and by 3.7% for private hospitals.

Almost 30 million days of patient care were reported for admitted patients—20.2 million in public hospitals and 9.7 million in private hospitals. Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the number of patient days rose by about 1.9% on average each year, or about 1.4% each year after adjusting for a change in definitions for reporting care type.

Who used these services and why did they receive care?

In 2015–16, 41% of separations and 48% of patient days were for people aged 65 and over. About 4.6% of separations (483,000) were for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, who were hospitalised at about 2.5 times the rate for other Australians.

In 2015–16, diseases of the digestive system accounted for about 10% of separations (over 1.0 million) and injuries or poisoning accounted for a further 7% of separations.

How were patient admissions funded?

In 2015–16, in public hospitals 83% of separations (5.2 million) were for public patients. Around 17% of separations were funded by another source—the majority (872,000, 14%) were for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission.

In public hospitals, a large proportion of separations were emergency admissions (41% for public patients and 49% for private health insurance patients), while in private hospitals separations were more likely to be elective or other planned care (94% and 95%, respectively).

Between 2011–12 and 2015–16, the number of public patient separations rose by an average of 2.9% each year (and accounted for 50% of separations in 2015–16), compared with 5.5% on average each year for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission (42% in 2015–16).

What services and procedures were reported?

In 2015–16, public hospitals accounted for the majority of childbirth separations (75%), medical separations (73%) and emergency admissions (92%). Private hospitals accounted for 60% of surgical separations and 56% of specialist mental health separations.

There were 2.2 million separations involving elective surgery—33% of these were in public hospitals and 67% in private hospitals.

The median waiting time for public hospital elective surgery was 38 days overall—42 days for public patients and 20 days for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission. There can be significant variations in waiting times depending on the type of procedure.

What was the safety and quality of the care?

In 2015–16, a hospital-acquired diagnosis was reported for about 889,000 separations—about 9.8% of public hospital separations (630,000 separations) and 6.6% of private hospital separations (260,000). Commonly reported diagnoses included Hypotension (almost 85,000 separations), Nausea and vomiting (56,000) and Urinary tract infections (24,000).