This report examines the utility of the available routinely collected national data sources for enumerating induced abortion in Australia. It outlines a methodology for estimating the number of induced abortions in Australia using the Medicare data and the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) data. Both data sets were used because neither has complete ascertainment of induced abortion.

The Medicare data includes information on services provided to patients other than those admitted to hospital, and to private patients admitted to hospital, for which Medicare claims have been presented and processed. The NHMD data includes information on almost all hospitalisations in Australia. Private patients treated as admitted patients in hospitals are included in both data sets.

Induced abortion may be defined as the termination of pregnancy through medical or surgical intervention (WHO 2005; FIGO 1999). The number of induced abortions in Australia was estimated using data from the NHMD for admitted patients in all states and territories, and Medicare data for out-of-hospital services for those states and territories in which abortion services are provided in non-hospital facilities as well as in hospitals. The alternative method of using Medicare data for all claims for induced abortion services whether in-hospital or out-of-hospital, and data for public patients treated in hospitals from the NHMD was examined, but it was found that this method could not be used because induced abortion could not be specifically identified in the Medicare data for private patients admitted to hospital.

The methodology developed for this report will be used by the AIHW to regularly report on the estimated number of induced abortions in Australia.