Three conditions – heart failure, COPD and type 2 diabetes – account for half of all potentially preventable hospitalisations for chronic conditions in Australia, new figures show
A report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows there were 748,000 admissions in public and private hospitals classified as PPH in 2017-18, accounting for 1 in 15 hospital admissions and 1 in 10 hospital bed days.
Overall, the most common reasons for PPH were COPD , UTIs and dental conditions. But in terms of bed days, the highest burden was seen for pneumonia and influenza, congestive cardiac failure and COPD.
Nearly half of all PPH (46%) were in older people, mostly due to chronic conditions with COPD, congestive cardiac failure, iron deficiency anaemia and type 2 diabetes complications being the most common in this age group. A minority of PPH were due to acute conditions and vaccine-preventable conditions.
There were 343,500 PPH for chronic conditions, accounting for 1.4 million bed days. Congestive cardiac failure, COPD and type 2 diabetes complications accounted for 50% of admissions and 71% of bed days for chronic conditions. Men had higher rates of PPH for type 2 diabetes complications, congestive cardiac failure, angina and COPD. Women had higher rates of PPH for hypertension and bronchiectasis
For acute conditions there were 330,000 PPH, accounting for 1 million bed days, and about two-thirds were due to infections (ENT infections in children, UTIs and PID in young women and cellulitis and UTIs in older people.
Indigenous Australians had PPH at a rate three times as high as other Australians and the gap continuing to widen. The report also showed a widening gap in PPH rates between people living in the lowest and highest socioeconomic areas, particularly for common chronic conditions such as COPD and diabetes complications.
“Primary and community health care – for example, care from a GP or community health nurse – can effectively manage and treat many health conditions,” the report authors commented.
“Primary care provides an opportunity for early intervention, helping reduce the risk of a person developing a disease, their symptoms worsening, or complications developing. If this care is not available or not accessed, a person can end up requiring hospital care that could potentially have been avoided.”