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Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14 - Report - Key findings: Total potentially preventable hospitalisations

Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14

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Key findings: Total potentially preventable hospitalisations

Nationally, in 2013–14 there were 600,267 hospitalisations for the 22 conditions that are considered potentially preventable. This represented 6% of 9.7 million hospital admissions in that year for public and private hospitals.

Potentially preventable hospitalisations also accounted for nearly 2.4 million bed days, equivalent to 8% of all hospital bed days.

Some people are more likely to be admitted for a potentially preventable hospitalisation than others. In 2013–14, of all potentially preventable hospitalisations, one in five hospitalisations (20%) occurred among people aged 80 years and over, and just over half (51%) were among people aged 60 years and over (Appendix 1).

Accordingly, potentially preventable hospitalisation rates have been age-standardised to enable fairer comparisons between geographic areas. The following findings highlight which Primary Health Network (PHN) areas have higher or lower rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations and bed days.

Variation in hospital bed days

How long patients stay in hospital can have a significant impact for both patients and hospitals. A shorter length of stay is typically considered more efficient, making beds available more quickly to provide care for more patients, as well as reducing the cost per patient.

However, stays that are too short may reduce the quality of care and patients that are sent home before they are ready may experience poorer outcomes.

In 2013, the Authority reported large differences across Australia’s public hospitals in the average length of stay for similar patients with conditions such as COPD and heart failure, even among hospitals of similar size and location (Appendix 3).

In 2013–14, the percentage of potentially preventable hospitalisations that were same-day varied across PHN areas, ranging from 23% in Hunter New England & Central Coast PHN (NSW) to 41% in Perth North PHN (Table 1).

Information on the percentage of same-day hospitalisations and number of bed days for these conditions across PHN areas is summarised in Table 1. A profile for each PHN is provided in the Primary Health Network profiles section and supplementary data are available to download at

Table 1: Potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH) and bed days, by Primary Health Network area, 2013–14

Primary Health Network Area Age–standardised rate per 100,000 Number of PPH* Percentage PPH same day Total bed days
Central & Eastern Sydney 1,896 28,566 29.0% 124,531
Hunter New England & Central Coast 2,249 32,609 23.1% 140,925
Murrumbidgee 3,576 10,193 30.8% 38,080
Nepean Blue Mountains 2,229 7,948 26.2% 30,911
North Coast 2,795 17,567 31.1% 66,510
Northern Sydney 1,702 16,795 28.7% 75,863
South Eastern NSW 2,224 15,756 28.1% 69,717
South Western Sydney 2,336 21,127 27.8% 87,753
Western NSW 2,774 9,682 24.6% 38,103
Western Sydney 2,441 20,455 30.5% 82,387
Eastern Melbourne 2,074 32,385 37.8% 136,985
Gippsland 2,385 7,496 28.8% 32,646
Western Victoria 2,346 16,301 29.9% 71,608
Murray 2,470 16,787 30.7% 71,497
North Western Melbourne 2,291 33,049 37.0% 130,578
South Eastern Melbourne 2,395 36,109 38.7% 142,061
Brisbane North 2,540 23,859 36.9% 81,764
Brisbane South 2,634 27,620 34.9% 96,844
Central Queensland, Wide Bay, Sunshine Coast 2,929 26,883 35.0% 94,980
Darling Downs & West Moreton 2,944 16,383 30.2% 61,638
Gold Coast 2,735 16,170 32.9% 55,012
Northern Queensland 2,981 20,077 30.6% 71,387
Western Queensland 4,365 3,006 29.5% 9,772
Adelaide 2,446 32,696 33.5% 135,358
Country SA 2,873 15,922 31.7% 58,607
Country WA 3,084 16,599 26.6% 57,633
Perth North 2,306 23,833 40.6% 84,145
Perth South 2,261 21,605 37.0% 81,423
Tasmania 2,207 12,812 39.1% 47,521
Northern Territory 4,891 10,000 26.0% 46,355
Australian Capital Territory 1,845 6,736 34.3% 28,730
Australia 2,436 600,267 32.5% 2,363,854

* There are 22 conditions for which a hospitalisation is considered potentially preventable. Hospitalisations from public and private hospitals are included.

Admitted patients who are admitted to hospital and discharged on the same day as a percentage of potentially preventable hospitalisations.

Bed days are the number of days an admitted patient is in hospital.

Notes: Numbers of potentially preventable hospitalisations and bed days relate to the size of Primary Health Network populations. More information and data can be found at and in this report’s Technical Supplement and Glossary.

Sources: National Health Performance Authority analysis of Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Data Set 2013–14, data supplied March 2015; and Australian Bureau of Statistics Estimated Resident Population 30 June 2013.

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