Fourth national mental health plan: measurement strategy

NMHP PI 14 Readmission to hospital within 28 days of discharge

Page last updated: May 2011

  • Strategic issue - Service Access, Coordination and Continuity of Care.

  • Rationale - Readmission rate is considered a global performance measure, as it potentially points to deficiencies in the functioning of the overall care system. Admissions to a psychiatric facility following a recent discharge may indicate that inpatient treatment was either incomplete or ineffective, or that follow-up care was inadequate to maintain the person out of hospital.

  • Endorsement status - Endorsed by AHMAC Mental Health Standing Committee, February 2011.

  • Date last updated - January 2011.
Indicator details
National Mental Health Performance Framework
Data collection details

Indicator details


  • Description - Percentage of in-scope overnight separations from the mental health service organisation's acute psychiatric inpatient units that are followed by a readmission to the same or to another public sector psychiatric inpatient unit within 28 days of discharge.

  • Numerator - Number of in-scope overnight separations from the mental health service organisation's acute psychiatric inpatient unit(s) occurring within the reference period, that are followed by a readmission to the same or another acute psychiatric inpatient unit within 28 days.

  • Denominator - Number of in-scope overnight separations from the mental health service organisation's acute psychiatric inpatient unit(s) occurring within the reference period.

  • Computation - (Numerator Denominator) x 100.

    Calculated separately for public, private and MBS-funded services.

  • Calculation conditions

    • Coverage/Scope - All public mental health service organisations acute psychiatric inpatient units.

      The following separations are excluded:

      • Same day separations, including index separation and subsequent readmission.

      • Statistical and change of care type separations.

      • Separations that end by transfer to another acute or psychiatric inpatient hospital.

      • Separations that end by death, left against medical advice/ discharge at own risk.Separations, where purpose of admission was for maintenance ECT and length of stay is one night only.
    • Methodology - Readmission is considered to have occurred if the person has been admitted to any public sector mental health acute inpatient unit within the state/territory. As such a state-wide unique patient identifier is required for full implementation of this indicator.

      Where a mental health service organisation has more than one unit of a particular service type for the purpose of this indicator those units should be combined.
  • Definitions

    • 'Same day separations' are inpatient episodes where the admission and separation dates are the same.

    • 'Same or another acute psychiatric inpatient unit' for the purposes of this indicator 'another' means within the same jurisdiction..
  • Presentation - Percentage.

  • Disaggregation - State/Territory and age.

  • Notes

    • This indicator cannot differentiate between 'planned' and 'unplanned' readmissions.

    • This indicator will not track readmissions across state/territory boundaries or track movement between public and private hospitals.
  • Is specification interim or long-term? - Long-term.

  • Reported in:

    • COAG National Action Plan Progress Report (Indicator 8 Readmission to hospital within 28 days of discharge).

    • Report on Government Services.
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National Mental Health Performance Framework


  • Tier - Tier III - Health System Performance.

  • Primary domain - Effective.

  • Secondary domain(s) - Continuous.

  • Mental health sub-domain - Community tenure.

  • Type of measure - Outcome.

  • Level at which indicator can be useful for benchmarking

    • Service Unit.
    • Regional group of services.
    • Mental Health Service Organisation.
    • State/Territory.
  • Related performance indicators and performance benchmarks

    • Rates of pre-admission community care.
    • Rates of post-discharge community care.

Data collection details


  • Data source(s)

    • Numerator - State/territory admitted patient data.
    • Denominator - State/territory admitted patient data.
  • Data source(s) type

    • Numerator - Administrative.
    • Denominator - Administrative.
  • Frequency of data source(s) collection

    • Numerator - Annually.
    • Denominator - Annually.
  • Data development

    • Long-term - Data linkage may allow identification of readmission between jurisdictions, and between public and private hospitals.
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