Unplanned Readmission to Hospital

After a successful hospital stay, the most important task for patients, families and staff is preparing for a successful discharge home. It is disappointing for everyone if a patient requires an unexpected readmission into hospital.

Tracking the number of patients who experience unplanned readmissions to Darwin Private Hospital after a previous hospital stay is one way that we can judge the quality of hospital care. One example of an unplanned readmission would be someone who is readmitted to the hospital for a surgical wound infection that occurred after his or her initial hospital stay.

It is important to note that unplanned hospital readmissions may or may not be related to the previous visit, and some unplanned readmissions are not preventable. Good discharge plans can help reduce the rate of unplanned readmissions by giving patients the care instructions they need after a hospital stay and by helping patients recognise symptoms that may require immediate medical attention.

This graph shows the percentage of patients admitted to Darwin Private Hospital that have required an unexpected and unplanned readmission to hospital within 28 days of their first admission. The rate for the past 6 years is shown in the blue bars. This is compared to the rate of “unplanned readmission” in other Australian hospitals (the grey bar). A recent analysis from the NSW Bureau of Health Information, reports that the unplanned readmission rate in NSW public hospitals was 6.8% and rising, 18 to 40% higher than in previous years.

Darwin Private Hospital - Unplanned Readmissions chart

The graph shows that patients admitted to Darwin Private Hospital are less likely to have an unplanned readmission compared with other Australian hospitals.

There is a limitation to this data. Currently no unique patient identifier exists that would allow us to measure unplanned readmissions to a different hospital. Therefore the unplanned readmission rates presented in this graph represent patients readmitted to the same hospital only.

What we are doing to further reduce unplanned readmission rates
Improvement strategies may vary from hospital to hospital. Examples are:

  • We review each case of readmission to check if there were any preventable factors.
  • Check each patient’s risk for readmission
  • Use a consistent process for discharging patients that includes making sure patients understand their medications and other instructions
  • Arranging prompt follow up care and ongoing appointments, eg. with Physiotherapist and General Practitioner
  • We monitor this data to make sure that the rate of unplanned readmission is not increasing


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