Admitted patient palliative care and hospital-based facilities

This section presents information on episodes of admitted patient palliative care occurring in hospitals, using data on palliative care-related hospitalisations from the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD). The NHMD is a collation of data about admitted patient care in Australian hospitals, based on the Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Data Set. For further information see the data sources section.

Information is presented on hospitalisations for which palliation was provided. Time series data for the period from 2011–12 to 2015–16 are presented to show the changes in hospitalisations for palliative care over this period. Wherever possible, corresponding data on all hospitalisations have been provided for comparative purposes.

This section also presents information on public acute and private hospital-based hospice care units.

Data downloads

Admitted patient palliative care and hospital-based facilities tables 2015-16 (554KB XLS)

Admitted patient palliative care and hospital-based facilities section 2015-16 (580KB)

The information in this section was last updated in May 2018.

Key points

  • 73,900 palliative care-related hospitalisations were reported from public acute and private hospitals in Australia in 2015–16.
  • 52.2% of palliative care-related hospitalisations were for people aged 75 and over.
  • 28.2% increase in palliative care-related hospitalisations between 2011–12 and 2015–16, compared to a 14.6% increase in hospitalisations for all reasons over the same period.
  • 50.5% of all hospitalisations in which the patient died, the patient had received palliative care in 2015–16.
  • 48.3% of palliative care hospitalisations involved cancer as the principal diagnosis in 2015–16.
  • 137 public acute hospitals reported that they had a hospice care unit in 2015–16, and about a third (32.8%) were located in New South Wales.
  • 1 in 5 (20.2%) of the 679 public acute hospitals (excluding public psychiatric hospitals) in Australia had a hospice care unit in 2015–16.

 

A palliative care-related hospitalisation is defined as an episode of admitted patient care for which the principal clinical intent was palliation during all or part of that episode. Two NHMD data items—Care type and Additional diagnosis—are used to capture information on palliative care: if either (or both) has a code of ‘palliative care’, that hospitalisation is considered in scope (see Identifying palliative care hospitalisations for further information). 

Admitted patient palliative care in 2015–16

In 2015–16, there were 73,884 palliative care-related hospitalisations reported from public acute and private hospitals in Australia, accounting for about 1 in 140 (0.7%) of all hospitalisations (10.6 million). A higher proportion of palliative care-related hospitalisations were for males (53.7%) than females (46.3%), and the rate was also higher for males than females (33.3 and 28.2 per 10,000 population, respectively).

People aged 75 and over accounted for over half (52.2%) of all palliative care-related hospitalisations in 2015–16; the average patient age of all palliative care hospitalisations was 72.8 with little difference between the sexes. This was considerably older than the average age of 54.8 years for hospitalisations for all reasons. Only about 1 in 10 (10.9%) of the total number of palliative care-related hospitalisations was for patients aged under 55.

Although there were more palliative care-related hospitalisations for males overall, among people aged 25–54 there were more hospitalisations for females than males. For people aged 85 and over, there were 11.3% more hospitalisations for females than males.