Although Australia has one of the lowest rates of potentially treatable deaths rates and the seventh-highest life expectancy of any country in the world, avoidable deaths are still a problem nationwide.
To shed light on the issue, the National Health Performance Authority compiled statistics from between 2009 to 2011, which show avoidable deaths still occur at workplaces, in public areas and in health care facilities.
"Although the overall health and wellbeing of people in Australia is high and improving, national-level figures disguise considerable disparities across local communities, which once revealed can highlight opportunities to improve health and medical care for all Australians," the report stated.
The statistics show 33,000 Australians died prematurely every year between 2009 and 2011, marking two-thirds of all deaths before the age of 75. These deaths were deemed premature because it was determined they could have been prevented through better medical treatment or safety measures.
Data show 12,858 deaths – 39 per cent of the total – could have been avoided with proper medical care.
Implications of poor medical care
The statistics shed light on how serious medical negligence can be in Australia. This is especially true in the discipline of surgery, where mishaps can lead to serious complications or death.
A recent report from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons shows 15 per cent of people who have an operation in the country must return to the hospital because of complications from the original treatment.
The government report also shows that medical care may not be even across the country, or even throughout parts of the same city. In metropolitan areas, the standardised rate of potentially avoidable deaths was 32 per cent higher in lower-income urban catchments when compared with more affluent inner-city catchments.
This suggests that everything from access to medical care to education about health issues may have play a role in preventing avoidable deaths. In certain instances, though, these deaths can be attributed to medical negligence.
Those who believe they may have been victims of medical negligence may want to get in touch with medical negligence lawyers to determine what legal options are available.