Diagnostic and therapeutic procedures among Australian hospital patients identified as indigenous

Med J Aust. 2002 Jan 21;176(2):58-62. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2002.tb04284.x.


Objectives: To determine whether hospital patients identified as Indigenous are less likely than other inpatients to have a principal procedure recorded, and the extent to which any disparity in procedure use can be explained by differences in patient, episode and hospital characteristics.

Design: Retrospective analysis of routinely collected administrative data from the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD).

Setting: Australian public and private hospitals.

Patients: All patients included in the NHMD whose episode type was recorded as acute and whose separation occurred between 1 July 1997 and 30 June 1998. Patients admitted for routine dialysis treatment were excluded.

Main outcome measure: Whether a principal procedure was recorded.

Results: In public hospitals, patients identified as Indigenous were significantly less likely than other patients to have a principal procedure recorded, even after adjusting for patient, episode and hospital characteristics (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.67; 95% CI, 0.66-0.68). This disparity was apparent for most diseases and conditions. In private hospitals, no significant difference was observed (adjusted OR, 0.94; 95% CI, 0.83-1.06).

Conclusions: The disparity in procedure use after adjustment for relevant factors indicates that in Australian public hospitals there may be systematic differences in the treatment of patients identified as Indigenous.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inpatients
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Retrospective Studies