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During 2009-10, there were 825,607 hospital separations in WA, of which 61,602 (7.5%) were identified as Indigenous . The age-standardised separation rate of 1,314 separations per 1,000 for the Indigenous population was more than three times the rate of 375 per 1,000 for the non-Indigenous population. There were 334,845 overnight hospital stays recorded in WA during 2009-10, of which 21,693 (6.5%) were identified as involving Indigenous people. The age-standardised separation rate of 361 per 1,000 for overnight stays for Indigenous people was more than two times the rate of 153 for non-Indigenous people. (Information about Indigenous status in hospital records is regarded as being of acceptable quality by the Western Australian Department of Health, but data for metropolitan hospitals are considered less accurate than data from remote areas .) Overall, it is likely that the Australia-wide numbers and rates for Indigenous hospitalisation could be up to 25% higher.)
Separate detailed data are not available for WA, but for Australia in 2009-10, separation rates were higher for Indigenous people than for non-Indigenous people for virtually all age groups, with the highest differences occurring in the middle adult years (Table 6) .
|Indigenous rate||Non-Indigenous rate||Rate ratio||Indigenous rate||Non-Indigenous rate||Rate ratio|
Source: Derived from AIHW, 2011 .
Separate detailed data are not available for WA, but for NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined, the most common reason of hospitalisation for Indigenous people in 2009-10 was ‘factors influencing health status and contact with health services’ (largely dialysis related) accounting for 48% of Indigenous separations (145,881 separations) . (Many of these separations involved repeat admissions for the same people, some on an almost daily basis.) The international classification of diseases (ICD) group ‘injury and other consequences of external causes’ (including motor vehicle accidents, assaults, self-inflicted harm and falls) was the next most common cause of hospitalisation for Indigenous people, responsible for 14.3% of separations (22,701 separations) . The next leading causes of hospitalisation for Indigenous people (excluding pregnancy-related conditions, most of which involved normal deliveries) were for respiratory conditions responsible for 11.5% of separations (more than 18,000) (excluding those for dialysis).
The most recent comparative information indicates that Indigenous people were hospitalised in 2007-08 at higher rates than non-Indigenous people for all major causes (Table 7). Other recent data for 2008-09, for Qld, WA, SA and public hospitals in the NT, indicate similar findings for age-standardised rates by type of long term condition (Table 8).
|Principal diagnosis||Number of Indigenous separations||Proportion of Indigenous separations (excl. dialysis) (%)||Rate ratio|
Source: Derived from AIHW, 2009 .
|Symptoms, signs not elsewhere classified||11,875||7.6||1.6|
|Mental & behavioural disorders||11,283||7.2||1.9|
|Diseases of the skin & subcutaneous tissue||6,372||4.1||2.6|
|Endocrine (incl. diabetes)||5,443||3.5||3.2|
|All causes (excluding dialysis)||156,011||100.0||1.4|
|Type of long term health condition||Separation rate (per 1,000)|
|Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease||11.2||2.1||5.3|
|Congestive heart failure||7.6||1.8||4.2|
|Iron deficiency anaemia||1.9||1.3||1.5|
|Rheumatic heart disease||0.6||0.1||6.0|
Earlier information on hospital rates for male and female Indigenous Australians is available for Qld, WA, SA and the NT combined. In 2004-05, the age-standardised rate of hospitalisation was higher for Indigenous males and females than non-Indigenous males and females for all chronic diseases, except for cancer (Table 9) . For end-stage renal disease (ESRD) the rates for Indigenous males and females were 10.9 and 21.4 times higher than the rates for non-Indigenous males and females, respectively.
|Type of long term health condition||Males||Females|
|Mental & behavioural disorders||2.1||1.4|
|Ischaemic heart diseases||1.8||3.0|
|Rheumatic heart diseases||3.9||6.8|
|End-stage renal diseases||10.9||21.4|
|Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases||4.9||5.9|