New report calls for 'complication' change

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The Consumers Health Forum has backed calls for a wider definition of hospital 'complication' and transparency in the performance of public and private hospitals.

A new report from the Grattan Institute claims one in every nine patients admitted to hospital in Australia suffers a complication, "and if they stay overnight the figure increases to one in four."

The report quantifies the number of patients experiencing complications at 900,000 and defines a complication as an additional diagnosis that was not present when the patient went into hospital.

"The diagnosis may be quite serious or it may be of less consequence and may not even delay discharge from the hospital (though it must have been treated to be included in this data)," it says.

The Grattan Institute's report produces a large number of complications by including incidents like 'delirium' and 'constipation'. 

The CHF has called for more transparency in the reporting of hospital performance.

“It’s time for Australia to change its attitudes and practices to how hospital patient data is used," said CHF CEO Leanne Wells.

“Based on their data, the safety leaders are well placed to work with policy makers, other hospitals, clinicians and consumers to share the practices that contribute to their better outcomes. 

“Consumers should be able to access information about their hospitals’ performance, not only to assess the quality and safety record but as a matter of public transparency to encourage best possible outcomes."

Ms Wells continued, “While many of these complications are not major and may be rectified promptly, they can nonetheless point to many ways in which hospital care can be improved for the benefit of patients."