Australia could save $1.5bn annually on health spending by boosting the safety of patient care in hospitals, according to a report by Grattan Institute.

By providing safer care at hospitals, the chances of patients facing harm get reduced.

As per the report, titled ‘Safer care saves money’, one in nine patients admitted to hospital suffers from a complication, which in turn cost public hospitals over $4bn annually and $1bn a year for private hospitals.

If the private as well as the public hospitals improve their safety performance to match the best 10% of hospitals in the country, an additional 250,000 patients annually would be discharged to their homes without complications. This could help the entire hospital system to save about $1.5bn annually. Furthermore, it would free up beds and resources so that another 300,000 patients can be treated.

Public hospitals receive additional extra funding for treating a sicker patient even if that patient becomes sicker due to a complication suffered in the hospital. Analysis of the country’s 20 biggest public hospitals indicate that in each of these cases, the cost of complications to the hospital is much higher than the extra funding it receives. On an average, the complication cost that a hospital bears is more than three times the extra funding it receives.

According to the report, the hospitals do not require additional funding to cut down complications; rather, they require better information, and accreditation systems to make useful improvements.

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Furthermore, complication rates and accreditation outcomes should be made public, which will make governments accountable.

‘One size fits all’ accreditation needs to be replaced with a system that is based on measurable safety outcomes and customised to a particular hospital’s requirement.