Background: Ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCs) are conditions for which the provision of timely and effective outpatient care can reduce the risks of hospitalisation by preventing, controlling or managing a chronic disease or condition.
Aims: The aims of this study were to report on ACSCs in Ireland, and to provide a baseline for future reference.
Methods: Using HIPE, via Health Atlas Ireland, inpatient discharges classified as ACSCs using definitions from the Victorian ACSC study were extracted for the years 2005-2008. Direct methods of standardisation allowed comparison of rates using the EU standard population as a comparison for national data, and national population as comparison for county data. Costs were estimated using diagnosis-related groups.
Results: The directly age-standardised discharge rate for ACSC-related discharges increased slightly, but non-significantly, from 15.40 per 1,000 population in 2005 to 15.75 per 1,000 population in 2008. The number of discharges increased (9.5%) from 63,619 in 2005 to 69,664 in 2008, with the estimated associated hospital costs increasing (31.5%) from <euro>267.8 million in 2005 to <euro>352.2 million in 2008. Across the country, there was considerable variation in the discharge rates for the Top-10 ACSCs for the years 2005-2008. Significantly lower rates of hospitalisation were observed in more urban areas including Cork, Dublin and Galway. The most common ACSC in 2008 was diabetes with complications (29.8%).
Conclusions: The variation in rates observed indicates the scope of reducing hospitalisations and associated costs for ACSCs, across both adult's and children's services and particularly in relation to diabetes complications.