Why did people receive admitted patient care?

The reason a patient receives admitted patient care can be described in a number of ways. These include the urgency of admission, the type of care required and the principal diagnosis.

Urgency of admission

Admission to hospital is generally categorised into two urgency categories—Emergency (required within 24 hours), Elective (required at some stage beyond 24 hours). Urgency is not assigned for some admissions (for example, obstetric care, and planned care, such as dialysis).

In 2017–18:

  • 92% of emergency admissions were in public hospitals, and made up 42% of admissions to public hospitals 
  • 59% of elective admissions were in private hospitals, and made up 81% of admissions to private hospitals 
  • 14% of private health insurance-funded hospitalisations were emergency admissions, with two thirds of these admitted to public hospitals.

Between 2013–14 and 2017–18:

  • emergency admissions in public hospitals increased by an average of 4.4% each year, compared with 5.3% each year in private hospitals
  • elective admissions increased by an average of 2.7% each year in both public and private hospitals.
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Care type

The type of admitted patient care required can be classified as:

  • acute care—that is, care with the intent to cure the condition, alleviate symptoms or manage childbirth (including newborns if they required acute care)
  • mental health care
  • subacute and non-acute care (such as Rehabilitation, Palliative care, Geriatric evaluation and management, Maintenance care and Psychogeriatric care).

Most hospitalisations are for acute care.

In 2017–18:

  • the 10.2 million acute care episodes accounted for 92% of hospitalisations and 73% of patient days overall
  • subacute and non-acute care accounted for 5% of hospitalisations and 14% of patient days
  • mental health care accounted for 3% of hospitalisations and 10% of patient days.

Between 2013–14 and 2017–18, hospitalisations for:

  • Acute care increased by an average of 3.8% per year in public hospitals and by 1.4% per year for private hospitals
  • Maintenance care increased by an average of 5.0% each year in public hospitals
  • Rehabilitation care increased by an average of 9.8% each year in private hospitals.

Principal diagnosis

The reason that a patient receives admitted patient care can be described in terms of a principal diagnosis (of a disease, injury or poisoning) or as a treatment for an ongoing condition (for example, dialysis for kidney failure).

In 2017–18:

  • about 9% of separations (over 1 million) had a principal diagnosis in the ICD-10-AM chapter Diseases of the digestive system
  • dialysis for kidney disease was the most common reason for care (1.5 million separations), followed by Other medical care (579,000, mostly for chemotherapy)
  • there were 1.5 million hospitalisations for cancer, 24% of which involved a surgical procedure
  • 43% of hospitalisations for musculoskeletal problems involved surgery and 30% included care involving rehabilitation.

For more information about common principal diagnoses, see the visualisations in the Overview: Why did people go to hospital in 2017–18? section.

Where to go for more information

For more information on urgency of admission, care type, and principal diagnosis, see Chapter 4 of Admitted patient care 2017–18: Australian hospital statistics.