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Rheumatic Heart Disease Australia

RHD Resouces

Data shows preventable RHD impacting on hospital systems

A recent report by the National Health Performance Authority shows the average length of stay for rheumatic heart disease hospitalisations was exceeded only by diabetes complications.

Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH’s) in 2013-2014 reports on cases that may have been prevented by timely access and appropriate provision of primary health care.  While rheumatic heart disease accounted for only 7% of chronic condition PPHs, the impact of rheumatic heart disease on the hospital system in terms of length of stay was greater than most other chronic conditions. The average length of stay for rheumatic heart disease hospitalisations was 7.5 days (excluding same day) and only exceeded by diabetes complications.

However, it should be noted that the report includes hospitalisations for acute rheumatic fever, not considered a chronic condition, in the rheumatic heart disease data. While chronic conditions listed in this report may be preventable through behaviour modification and lifestyle change, they can also theoretically be managed in a primary health care setting to prevent hospitalisation.  However, the Australian guideline for prevention, diagnosis and management of ARF and RHD (2nd edition) recommends hospitalisation for suspected acute rheumatic fever (first episode and recurrence) as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms. This allows for investigations to be performed and, if necessary, ongoing observation of the patient to confirm the diagnosis before commencing treatment.

The PPH data is available for the first time as an interactive tool to explore data by geographic area and Primary Health Network areas