What was the safety and quality of care?

Some information is available on the safety and quality of admitted patient care in hospitals, but this does not provide a complete picture. There is no routinely available information on some aspects of quality, such as the continuity and responsiveness of hospital services.

Hospital-acquired complications

In 2017–18, one or more hospital-acquired complications was reported for 185,000 hospitalisations (affecting about 2.0% of all hospitalisations).

The most common hospital-acquired complications reported were:

  • Healthcare-associated infections—96,000 hospitalisations (1.0% of all hospitalisations) 
  • Cardiac complications—46,000 hospitalisations (0.5% of all hospitalisations).
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Performance indicator: Falls resulting in patient harm in hospital

In 2017–18:

  • a fall in a health service area was reported for 40,000 hospitalisations, at a rate of 4.9 per 1,000 hospitalisations in public hospitals and 1.4 per 1,000 in private hospitals
  • Indigenous Australians had a lower rate of falls than other Australians (1.8 and 3.7 per 1,000 hospitalisations, respectively)
  • patients living in Major cities had a higher rate of falls than those living in Remote and very remote areas (3.6 and 2.1 per 1,000 hospitalisations, respectively).

Performance indicator: Healthcare-associated infections—Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia in public hospitals

The rate of Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB), also known as golden staph bloodstream infection, is an important measure of the safety of hospital care. The aim is to have as few cases of SAB as possible. One of the most effective ways to minimise the risk of SAB and other healthcare-associated infections is good hand hygiene.

In 2017–18:

  • 1,493 cases were reported for public hospitals for almost 20.5 million days of patient care under surveillance
  • all states and territories had SAB rates below the national benchmark of 2.0 cases per 10,000 days of patient care.

Between 2013–14 and 2017–18, the overall number of SAB cases in public hospitals decreased from 1,621 to 1,493. Over the same period, the number of methicillin-sensitive cases (MSSA) (treatable with commonly used antibiotics) was relatively stable and the number of methicillin-resistant cases (MRSA) decreased from 388 to 267.

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Where to go for more information

For more information on hospital-acquired complications, falls and unplanned readmissions see Chapter 8 of Admitted patient care 2017–18: Australian hospital statistics.

For more information on Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia see Bloodstream infections associated with hospital care 2017–18: Australian hospital statistics.