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Study highlights avoidable hospital admissions

MEDIA RELEASE TO:
All Health Reporters/Chief Executives/Press Officers

FROM: Dr Don Simmers , NZMA Deputy Chairman

DATE: Friday, 23 June 2006

SUBJECT: NZMJ study highlights avoidable hospital admissions

Research which shows that nearly one third of hospital admissions are avoidable has highlighted the importance of public and primary health initiatives.

The paper, Avoidable hospitalisations: potential for primary and public health initiatives in Canterbury, New Zealand, appears in the latest issue of the New Zealand Medical Journal.

It shows that potentially “avoidable admissions” to Christchurch Hospital in 2003 comprised 31 percent of all hospital admissions, with a total cost of $96.6 million.

“If this rate is similar in other parts of the country, then it’s a huge drain on taxpayer funding,” said Dr Don Simmers, Deputy Chairman of the New Zealand Medical Association.

“The paper highlights the importance of public and primary health measures to improve the health of New Zealanders before they get admitted to hospital,” Dr Simmers said. “The Government’s Primary Health Care Strategy, for example, aims to improve access to primary health care so people can get the attention they need in the community.”

“Improved access to general practice services, and greater focus on targeted funding for preventative services are very important, as are public health programmes.

“Lifestyle changes, such as exercising and stopping smoking, are also important for keeping people out of hospital,” said Dr Simmers. The NZMA is targeting obesity this year and will be contributing to efforts to reduce this major health risk.

The leading causes of potentially “avoidable hospitalisations” in Christchurch Hospital were cardiovascular disease, stroke, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary disorders.

The paper says that the majority of potentially “avoidable hospitalisations” involve conditions that could have been identified and treated earlier by either public health or primary healthcare interventions, thereby preventing deterioration that may involve a hospital admission or even death.

While preventative measures exist for many diseases it is the prevention of cardiovascular disease and diabetes that requires the greatest focus and it is these diseases that have the greatest potential for avoidable hospital admissions. The health system and society in general needs to work even harder to reduce levels of obesity and smoking.

ENDS

See... The NZMJ Article

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