• Print


A person of Aboriginal descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives.
Coming on sharply and often brief, intense and severe.
acute coronary syndrome
Describes acute myocardial infarction (heart attack) or unstable angina when they first present as a clinical emergency with chest pain or other features.
acute hospitals
Public and private hospitals which provide services mainly to admitted patients with acute or temporary ailments. The average length of stay is relatively short.
addiction/addictive behaviour
When a person shows a very high dependence on something that is harmful or dangerous to them. It is marked by repeated and compulsive activity which the person finds (or would find) very difficult or impossible to stop. The term is most often applied to addictive drug use, such as with alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
Admission to hospital. In this report, the number of separations has been taken as the number of admissions, hence an admission rate is the same as a separation rate.
admitted patient
A patient who undergoes a hospital's formal admission process.
affective disorders
Mood disorders such as depression, mania and bipolar affective disorder. (The term does not include anxiety disorders, which are classified as a separate group.)
age-specific rate
A rate for a specific age group. The numerator and denominator relate to the same age group.
A method of removing the influence of age when comparing populations with different age structures. This is usually necessary because the rates of many diseases vary strongly (usually increasing) with age. The age structures of the different populations are converted to the same 'standard' structure, then the disease rates that would have occurred with that structure are calculated and compared.
aids and appliances
Durable medical goods dispensed to ambulatory patients that are used more than once for therapeutic purposes, such as glasses, hearing aids, wheelchairs and orthopaedic appliances and prosthetics that are not implanted surgically but are external to the user of the appliance. Excludes prostheses fitted as part of admitted patient care in a hospital.
Alzheimer's disease
Condition marked by progressive loss of brain power shown by worsening short-term memory, confusion and disorientation. A form of dementia.
ambulatory care
Care provided to hospital patients who are not admitted to the hospital, such as patients of emergency departments and outpatient clinics. The term is also used to refer to care provided to patients of community-based (non-hospital) health-care services.
A reduced level of haemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen in the red blood cells. It has many causes, including bleeding (loss of red blood cells), low production of red blood cells, and processes that damage them. It can cause paleness, tiredness and even breathlessness.
Temporary chest pain or discomfort when the heart's own blood supply is inadequate to meet extra needs, as in exercise.
See also unstable angina and cardiovascular disease.
A method of reducing a blockage in an artery by opening out a balloon placed inside the artery at the point of narrowing. If the artery is a coronary artery the procedure is technically known as percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty (PTCA).
anxiety disorders
A group of mental disorders marked by excessive feelings of apprehension, worry, nervousness and stress. Includes panic disorder, various phobias, generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
See diagnosis related groups.
A disturbed rhythm of the heart beat—either too fast, too slow or irregular.
A group of disorders in which there is inflammation of the joints, which can become stiff, painful, swollen or deformed. The two main types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
associated cause(s) of death
Any condition(s), diseases and injuries—other than the underlying cause—considered to contribute to a death.
See also cause of death.
A common, chronic inflammatory disease of the air passages causing widespread narrowing in them with obstruction of airflow and episodes of wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Different medications can prevent the episodes or relieve them.
A process in which fatty and fibre-like deposits build up on the inner walls of arteries, often forming plaques that can then cause blockages. It is the main underlying condition in heart attack, angina, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.
atrial fibrillation
A condition marked by an irregular, rapid heart beat. It arises because the heart's collecting chambers (atria) stop beating rhythmically and quiver uselessly (fibrillate).
auto-immune diseases
Diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Type 1 diabetes, in which the immune system reacts against body tissues and damages them.
available beds
Beds immediately available for use by admitted patients.
average length of stay (ALOS)
The average of the length of stay for admitted patient episodes.


A standard or point of reference for measuring quality or performance.
See also benchmarking.
A continuous process of measuring quality or performance against the highest standards.
See also benchmark.
bipolar affective disorder
A mental disorder where the person may be depressed at one time and manic at another. Formerly known as manic depression.
blood cholesterol
Fatty substance produced by the liver and carried by the blood to supply the rest of the body. Its natural function is to supply material for cell walls and for steroid hormones, but if levels in the blood become too high this can lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
body mass index (BMI)
The most commonly used method of assessing whether a person is normal weight, underweight, overweight or obese. It is calculated by dividing the person's weight (in kilograms) by their height (in metres) squared; that is, kg ÷ m2. For both men and women, underweight is a BMI below 18.5, acceptable weight is from 18.5 to less than 25, overweight is 25 and above (includes obese), and obese is 30 and over.
Inflammation of the main air passages (the bronchi). May be acute (because of infection) or chronic (most often because of tobacco smoking).
The process by which a medical practitioner or optometrist sends the bill for services direct to Medicare, so the patients concerned pay nothing. Also known as direct billing.


A disease usually marked by diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and vomiting for a few days, caused by some types of Campylobacter bacteria and often foodborne.
A large range of diseases, in which some of the body's cells become defective, begin to multiply out of control, can invade and damage the area around them, and can also spread to other parts of the body to cause further damage.
capital consumption
The amount of fixed capital used up each year—otherwise known as depreciation.
capital expenditure
Expenditure on large-scale fixed assets (for example, new buildings and equipment with a useful life extending over a number of years).
cardiovascular disease
Any disease of the circulatory system, namely the heart (cardio) or blood vessels (vascular). Includes heart attack, angina, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. Also known as circulatory disease.
The range and types of patients (the mix of cases) treated by a hospital or other health service. This provides a way of describing and comparing hospitals and other services for planning and managing health care. Casemix classifications put patients into manageable numbers of groups with similar conditions that use similar health-care resources, so that the activity and cost-efficiency of different hospitals can be compared.
See diagnosis related groups.
A cloudy or opaque area in the lens of the eye.
cause of death
From information reported on the medical certificate of cause of death, each death is classified by the underlying cause of death according to rules and conventions of the 10th revision of the International Classification of Diseases. The underlying cause is defined as the disease that initiated the train of events leading directly to death. Deaths from injury or poisoning are classified according to the circumstances of the violence which produced the fatal injury, rather than to the nature of the injury.
See also underlying cause of death.
cerebrovascular disease
Any disorder of the blood vessels supplying the brain or its covering membranes. A notable and major form of cerebrovascular disease is stroke.
The use of drugs (chemicals) to prevent or treat disease, with the term usually being applied to treatment for cancer rather than for other uses.
See blood cholesterol.
Persistent and long-lasting.
chronic bronchitis
Long-term condition with inflammation of the bronchi, the lung's main air passages, causing frequent coughing attacks and coughing up of mucus.
chronic diseases
Term applied to a diverse group of diseases, such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis, that tend to be long-lasting and persistent in their symptoms or development. Although these features also apply to some communicable diseases (infections), the term is usually confined to non-communicable diseases.
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Serious, progressive and disabling long-term lung disease where damage to the lungs, usually because of both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, obstructs oxygen intake and causes increasing shortness of breath. By far the greatest cause is cigarette smoking.
circulatory disease
See cardiovascular disease (alternative name).
circulatory system
The heart along with the blood vessels, comprising the system that circulates blood around the body to supply oxygen and nutrients to all body tissues and to carry away waste products from them. Also known as the cardiovascular system.
Permanently damaged structure of the liver due to extensive death of its cells with resultant scarring. The main causes are chronic alcohol abuse and hepatitis C.
A group of individuals being studied who have experienced the same event at a specified period in time; for example, 'birth cohort' refers to people born in the same year.
See colonoscopy.
A procedure whereby the inside of the large bowel (colon) is viewed using a long flexible tube (colonscope) inserted through the anus.
colorectal cancer
Cancer of the colon (the lower part of the intestine, usually 1.5 to 2 metres) or of the rectum (the final 15 cm of the colon, ending with the anus).
communicable diseases (infectious diseases)
Diseases or illnesses due to infectious organisms or their toxic products. Communication may occur directly or indirectly via contact with other humans, animals or other environments that harbour the organism.
When a person has two or more health problems at the same time.
A secondary problem that arises from a disease, injury or treatment (such as surgery) that worsens the patient's condition and makes treatment more complicated.
condition (health condition) A broad term that can be applied to any health problem, including symptoms, diseases, and various risk factors such as high blood cholesterol, obesity and so forth. Often used synonymously with disorder or problem.
confidence interval
A statistical term describing a range (interval) of values within which we can be 'confident' that the true value lies, usually because it has a 95% or higher chance of doing so.
A condition that is recognised at birth, or that is believed to have been present since birth, including conditions which are inherited or caused by environmental factors.
constant prices
Dollar amounts for different years that are adjusted to reflect the prices in a chosen reference year. This provides a way of comparing expenditure over time on an equal dollar-for dollar basis without the distorting effects of inflation. The comparison will reflect only the changes in the amount of goods and services purchased, not the changes in prices of these goods and services caused by inflation.
coronary artery bypass graft (CABG)
Surgical procedure using blood vessel grafts to bypass blockages in the coronary arteries and restore adequate blood flow to the heart muscle.
coronary artery disease
Disease of the coronary arteries, typically meaning atherosclerosis. When this leads to symptoms such as chest pain the result is known as coronary heart disease.
coronary heart disease
Disease due to blockages in the heart's own (coronary) arteries, expressed as angina or a heart attack. Also known as ischaemic heart disease.
crude death rate
The number of deaths in a given period divided by the size of the corresponding population indexed to 100,000.
A disease usually marked by diarrhoea with cramping abdominal pain and other symptoms, caused by Cryptosporidium parvum (a protozoan parasite) and transmitted directly from person to person, or foodborne.


A general and worsening loss of brain power such as memory, understanding and reasoning.
Having one or more natural teeth.
A mood disorder with prolonged feelings of being sad, hopeless, low and inadequate, with a loss of interest or pleasure in activities and often with suicidal thoughts or self-blame.
Any factor that can increase the chances of ill health (risk factors) or good health (protective factors) in a population or individual. By convention, services or other programs which aim to improve health are often not included in this definition.
diabetes (diabetes mellitus)
A chronic condition in which the body cannot properly use its main energy source, the sugar glucose. This is due to a relative or absolute deficiency in insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin helps glucose enter the body's cells from the bloodstream and then be processed by them. Diabetes is marked by an abnormal build-up of glucose in the blood and it can have serious short- and long-term effects. For the three main types of diabetes see Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes.
diagnosis related groups (DRGs)
A widely used type of casemix classification system. In the case of Australian acute hospitals, AR-DRGs (Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Groups) classify admissions into groups with similar clinical conditions (related diagnoses) and similar resource usage. This allows the activity and performance of hospitals to be compared on a common basis.
See also casemix.
A process used to treat kidney failure. A machine is connected to the patient's bloodstream so it can take on the role of the kidneys by removing excess substances and waste from the blood.
A bacterial infection that usually starts with soreness of the throat and tonsils but which can also affect other parts of the body and become severe enough to block breathing. It is preventable by vaccination.
direct billing
See bulk-billing.
Described by the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health as a concept of several dimensions relating to an impairment in body structure or function, a limitation in activities (such as mobility and communication), a restriction in participation (involvement in life situations such as work, social interaction and education), and the affected person's physical and social environment. Described by the Oxford concise colour medical dictionary (1998) as 'a loss or restriction of functional ability or activity as a result of impairment of the body or mind'.
disability-adjusted life year (DALY)
Years of healthy life lost through premature death or living with disability due to illness or injury.
A physical or mental disturbance involving symptoms (such as pain or feeling unwell), dysfunction or tissue damage, especially if these symptoms and signs form a recognisable clinical pattern.
disorder (health disorder)
Used synonymously with condition.
Infectious disease (previously called granuloma inguinale) caused by the bacteria Chlamydia granulomatis. It features painless genital ulcers with tissue destruction, and can result in secondary infection and scarring.
Down syndrome
Condition caused by a genetic defect known as trisomy 21—an extra chromosome 21, making three instead of two. Produces a characteristic facial appearance and shortness, often with heart defects and usually reduced intelligence.


A chronic lung disease where over-expansion or destruction of the lung tissue blocks oxygen intake, leading to shortness of breath and other problems.
The viewing of internal parts of the body, such as the inside of the lower bowel (the colon) with a colonoscope.
enterohaemorrhagic E. coli infection
A disease marked by diarrhoea that can be mild or severe and bloody, and sometimes also by haemolytic uraemic syndrome (sudden kidney failure and anaemia in children) and other symptoms. It is caused by some types of E. coli bacteria and is usually foodborne.
An outbreak of a disease or its occurrence at a level that is clearly higher than usual, especially if it affects a large proportion of the population.
The study of the patterns and causes of health and disease in populations, and the application of this study to improve health.
A disturbance of brain function marked by recurrent fits and loss of consciousness.
external cause Environmental event, circumstance and/or condition as the cause of injury, poisoning and/or other adverse effect. The term is used in disease classification.


fertility rate
Number of live births per 1,000 women aged 15–49.
fetal death
Birth of a fetus weighing at least 400 grams (or, where birthweight is unavailable, of at least 20 weeks gestation), which shows no signs of life. Commonly referred to as stillbirth.
fetal death rate
Number of fetal deaths per 1,000 total births (fetal deaths plus live births).
free-standing day hospital facility
A private hospital where only minor operations and other procedures not requiring overnight stay are performed, and which does not form part of any private hospital providing overnight care.


A procedure whereby the inside of the stomach is viewed using a flexible tube passed down into it via the mouth.
generalised anxiety disorder
A mental disorder where a person is overly and unrealistically anxious and worried about many things over a long period. One of the group of anxiety disorders.
gestational diabetes
Diabetes which is first diagnosed during pregnancy (gestation). It may disappear after pregnancy but signals a high risk of diabetes occurring later on.
Disease of excess uric acid in the blood causing attacks of joint pain (most often in the big toe) and other problems.
gross domestic product (GDP)
A statistic commonly used to indicate national wealth. It is the total market value of goods and services produced within a given period after deducting the cost of goods and services used up in the process of production but before deducting allowances for the consumption of fixed capital.


See dialysis.
Term relating to whether the body (which includes the mind) is in a good or bad state. With good health the state of the body and mind are such that a person feels and functions well and can continue to do so for as long as possible.
See also public health.
health indicator
See indicator.
health outcome
A change in the health of an individual or population due wholly or partly to a preventive or clinical intervention.
health promotion
Activities to improve health and prevent disease, often described as the process that helps individuals and communities to increase control over the determinants of health.
health status
An individual's or population's overall level of health, taking into account various aspects such as life expectancy, amount of disability, levels of disease risk factors and so on.
heart attack
Life-threatening emergency that occurs when a vessel supplying blood to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked completely by a blood clot. The medical term commonly used for a heart attack is myocardial infarction.
See also cardiovascular disease.
heart failure
When the heart functions less effectively in pumping blood around the body. It can result from a wide variety of diseases and conditions that can impair or overload the heart, such as heart attack, other conditions that damage the heart muscle directly (cardiomyopathies), high blood pressure, or a damaged heart valve.
Inflammation of the liver, which can be due to certain viral infections, alcohol excess or a range of other causes.
Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) infection
A bacterial infection of infants and children that can cause meningitis, pneumonia and other serious effects. It is preventable by vaccination.
highly specialised drugs
Under Section 100 of the National Health Act, certain drugs (for example, cyclosporin) can be supplied to community patients only through hospitals because the hospitals can provide the facilities or staff necessary for the appropriate use of the drugs. These drugs are funded by the Australian Government separately from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Hodgkin disease (Hodgkin lymphoma)
A cancer marked by progressive painless enlargement of lymph nodes throughout the body. A form of lymphoma.
Establishment for people who cannot live independently but who do not need nursing care in a hospital or nursing home. Hostels provide board, lodging or accommodation and cater mostly for the aged, distressed or disabled. Residents are generally responsible for their own provisions but may be given domestic assistance such as help with meals, laundry and personal care.
hypertensive disease
Disease occurring when high blood pressure (hypertension) is severe or prolonged enough to cause damage to the heart, brain or kidneys.


A state of feeling unwell, although the term is also often used synonymously with disease.
Inducing immunity against infection by the use of an antigen to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies.
See vaccination.
impaired glucose tolerance
Condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but less than required for a diagnosis of diabetes, and which signals an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Any loss or abnormality of psychological, physiological or anatomical structure or function.
incidence The number of new cases (of an illness or event, and so on) occurring during a given period. Compare with prevalence.
A key statistical measure selected to help describe (indicate) a situation concisely, track progress and performance, and act as a guide to decision making. It may have an indirect meaning as well as a direct one; for example, Australia's overall death rate is a direct measure of mortality but is often used as a major indicator of population health.
A person of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community with which he or she is associated.
Local response to injury or infection, marked by local redness, heat, swelling and pain. Can also occur when there is no clear external cause and the body reacts against itself, as in auto-immune diseases.
Hormone that is produced by the pancreas and regulates the body's energy sources, most notably the sugar glucose.
International Classification of Diseases
International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The World Health Organization's internationally accepted classification of death and disease. The 10th Revision (ICD-10) is currently in use. In this report, causes of death classified before 1979 under previous revisions have been reclassified to ICD-10 by the AIHW. ICD-10-AM is the Australian modification of ICD-10, used for diagnoses and procedures recorded for patients admitted to hospitals.
intervention (for health)
Any action taken by society or an individual which 'steps in' (intervenes) to improve health, such as medical treatment and preventive campaigns.
Reduced or blocked blood supply.
See also ischaemic heart disease.
ischaemic heart disease
Heart attack and angina (chest pain). Also known as coronary heart disease.
See also ischaemia.


length of stay
Duration of hospital stay, calculated by subtracting the date the patient is admitted from the day of separation. All leave days, including the day the patient went on leave, are excluded. A same-day patient is allocated a length of stay of one day.
life expectancy
An indication of how long a person can expect to live. Technically it is the number of years of life remaining to a person at a particular age if death rates do not change.
A disease which normally appears in otherwise healthy people as an acute, mild fever, sometimes with influenza-like symptoms, caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and usually foodborne. It can cause more severe symptoms in newborns, the elderly, people with poor immunity and pregnant women (in whom it can also cause abortion).
long-term condition
A term used in the ABS National Health Surveys to describe a health condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least six months.
See also chronic diseases.
low birthweight
Weight of a baby at birth that is less than 2,500 grams.
A cancer of the lymph nodes. Lymphomas are divided into two broad types, Hodgkin disease lymphomas and non-Hodgkin lymphomas.


Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs)
A high level of groupings of patients used in the AR-DRG classification.
See also diagnosis related groups.
See cancer.
X-ray of the breast. It may be used to assess a breast lump or as a screening test in women with no evidence of cancer.
A mental disorder where the person is overexcited, overactive and excessively and unrealistically happy and expansive. It is the opposite of depression and can alternate with it in the same person in what is known as bipolar affective disorder (formerly known as manic depression).
See mania and manic depression.
manic depression, manic depressive disorder
See bipolar affective disorder, mania, and depression.
A highly contagious infection, usually of children, that causes flu-like symptoms, fever, a typical rash and sometimes serious secondary problems such as brain damage. It is preventable by vaccination.
The midpoint of a list of observations ranked from the smallest to the largest.
A national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of personal medical services for all Australians and aims to help them afford medical care.
A cancer of the body's cells that contain pigment (melanin), mainly affecting the skin.
Inflammation of the brain's covering (the meninges), as can occur with some viral or bacterial infections.
mental illness
Disturbances of mood or thought that can affect behaviour and distress the person or those around them, so the person often has trouble functioning normally. They include anxiety disorders, depression and schizophrenia.
The spread of a cancer from its original site to other parts of the body.
Refers to ill health in an individual and to levels of ill health in a population or group.
motor neurone disease
A serious disease of the nervous system with progressive wasting of muscles, weakness and paralysis.
multiple sclerosis
One of the most common nervous system disorders, with varied symptoms such as loss of control of limbs, sudden vision problems and disturbed sensations.
A contagious viral disease marked by acute and painful swelling of the saliva-producing glands, often similarly affecting the testicles and sometimes other parts.
Relating to the muscles, joints and bones.
myocardial infarction
Term still commonly used to mean a heart attack, but more correctly refers only to those heart attacks which have caused some death of heart muscle.


neonatal death
Death of an infant within 28 days of birth.
neonatal mortality rate
Number of neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births.
An abnormal ('neo', new) growth of tissue. Can be 'benign' (not a cancer) or 'malignant' (a cancer). Same as a tumour.
neural tube defects
Defects such as spina bifida and anencephalus that have arisen in the neural tube, the part of the embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord.
neurosis/neurotic disorders
A broad category of mental disorders with anxiety as their main feature and whose symptoms are mostly exaggerations of normal emotions or behaviour. They include anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress reactions and other problems.
non-admitted patient
A patient who receives care from a recognised non-admitted patient service/clinic of a hospital, including emergency departments and outpatient clinics.
non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
A range of cancers of the lymphatic system (lymph glands and the channels they are linked to) that are not of the Hodgkin variety.
People who have declared they are not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent. Used interchangeably with other Australians.
nursing homes
Establishments which provide long-term care involving regular basic nursing care to chronically ill, frail, disabled or convalescent people, or senile inpatients. Also referred to as residential aged care facilities.


Marked degree of overweight, defined as body mass index of 30 or over. See also overweight.
obsessive-compulsive disorder
A form of anxiety disorder where repeated and unwanted thoughts and impulses disturb and dominate a person. Often involves rituals such as excessive hand washing, checking and counting, which in turn cause anxiety if they are prevented or out of control.
occasion of service
Occurs when a patient receives some form of service from a functional unit of a hospital, but is not admitted.
A medical specialty dealing with eye diseases.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
An organisation of 30 developed countries, including Australia.
osteoarthritis A chronic and common form of arthritis, affecting mostly the spine, hips, knees and hands. It first appears from the age of about 30 and is more common and severe with increasing age.
Thinning and weakening of the bone substance, with a resulting risk of fracture.
other Australians
People who are not of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, or whose status is not known. Used interchangeably with non-Indigenous.
outcome (health outcome)
A health-related change due to a preventive or clinical intervention or service. (The intervention may be single or multiple, and the outcome may relate to a person, group or population, or be partly or wholly due to the intervention.)
out-of-pocket costs
The total costs incurred by individuals for health-care services over and above any refunds from Medicare and private health insurance funds.
Defined as a body mass index of 25 or over.
See also obesity.


P value
The probability that an observed difference has arisen by chance alone. By convention, a P value of 0.05 or less is usually considered statistically significant because the difference it relates to would occur by chance alone only one in twenty times or less often.
panic disorder
Marked by panic attacks (episodes of intense fear or discomfort) that occur suddenly and often unpredictably.
Pap smear
Papanicolaou smear, a procedure to detect cancer and pre-cancerous conditions of the female genital tract.
The deliberate or ambivalent act of self-damage which is potentially life-threatening, but does not result in death.
General term for the study of disease, but often used more specifically for diagnostic services which examine specimens, such as samples of blood or tissue.
patient days
The number of full or partial days of stay for patients who were admitted for an episode of care and who underwent separation during the reporting period. A patient who is admitted and separated on the same day is allocated one patient day.
patient transport services
Organisations engaged mainly in providing transport of patients by ground or air, along with health (or medical) care. These services are often provided during a medical emergency but are not restricted to emergencies. The vehicles are equipped with lifesaving equipment operated by medically trained personnel. Includes public ambulance services or flying doctor services, such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Care Flight. Also includes patient transport programs such as patient transport vouchers or support programs to assist isolated patients with travel to obtain specialised health care. (Note: Previously called 'Ambulance and other'.)
performance indicators
Measures of the efficiency and effectiveness of health services (hospitals, health centres, and so forth) in providing health care.
Pertaining to or occurring in the period shortly before or after birth (usually up to 28 days after).
perinatal death
Fetal or neonatal death.
perinatal mortality rate
Number of perinatal deaths per 1,000 total births (fetal deaths plus live births).
peripheral vascular disease
Pain in the legs due to an inadequate blood supply to them.
pertussis (whooping cough)
A highly infectious bacterial disease of the air passages marked by explosive fits of coughing and often a whooping sound on breathing in. It is preventable by vaccination.
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
A national, government-funded scheme that subsidises the cost of a wide range of pharmaceutical drugs, and that covers all Australians to help them afford standard medications.
A form of anxiety disorder in which there is persistent, unrealistic fear of an object or situation and which interferes with the person's life as they seek to avoid the object of their fear. Phobias include fear of heights, flying, open spaces, social gatherings, and animals such as spiders and snakes.
plaque (atherosclerotic)
A localised area of atherosclerosis, especially when raised or built up, and which may cause blockages in arteries.
poliomyelitis (polio)
Muscle paralysis, wasting and deformity of limbs after infection by a common virus (poliovirus) that can damage the so-called motor nerves in the spinal cord. It is preventable by vaccination.
post-traumatic stress disorder (PSD)
A form of anxiety disorder in which a person has a delayed and prolonged reaction after being in an extremely threatening or catastrophic situation such as a war, natural disaster, terrorist attack, serious accident or witnessing violent deaths.
potential years of life lost (PYLL)
Number of potential years of life lost in a population as a result of premature death.
prescription drugs
Pharmaceutical drugs available only on the prescription of a registered medical practitioner and available only from pharmacies.
The number or proportion (of cases, instances, and so forth) present in a population at a given time. Compare with incidence.
prevention (of disease or ill health)
Action to reduce or eliminate the onset, causes, complications or recurrence of disease or ill health.
principal diagnosis
The diagnosis describing the problem that was chiefly responsible for the patient's episode of care in hospital.
private hospital
A privately owned and operated institution, catering for patients who are treated by a doctor of their own choice. Patients are charged fees for accommodation and other services provided by the hospital and relevant medical and allied health practitioners. The term includes private free-standing day hospital facilities.
private patient
Person admitted to a private hospital, or person admitted to a public hospital who decides to choose the doctor(s) who will treat them or to have private ward accommodation. This means they will be charged for medical services and accommodation.
problem (health problem)
Another poorly defined term often used synonymously with condition or disorder. May also be used more specifically to refer to symptoms and other health factors that a person or the doctor perceives as a concern—a problem—that needs attention; and which, for example, the person may record in a survey or their doctor may list in clinical notes to form a 'problem list'.
prostate cancer
Cancer of the prostate, the male organ that sits next to the urinary bladder and contributes to the semen (sperm fluid).
psychiatric hospitals
Establishments devoted mainly to the treatment and care of admitted patients with mental illness.
A broad grouping for a more severe degree of mental disturbance, often involving fixed, false beliefs known as delusions.
public health
Term variously referring to the level of health in the population, to actions that improve that level or to related study. Activities aimed at benefitting a population tend to emphasis prevention, protection and health promotion as distinct from treatment tailored to individuals with symptoms. Examples include provision of a clean water supply and good sewerage, conduct of anti-smoking education campaigns, and screening for diseases such as cancer of the breast and cervix.
public hospital
A hospital controlled by a state or territory health authority. In Australia public hospitals offer free diagnostic services, treatment, care and accommodation to all Australians who need them.
public patient
A patient admitted to a public hospital who has agreed to be treated by doctors of the hospital's choice and to accept shared ward accommodation. This means that the patient is not charged.
A group derived by ranking the population according to specified criteria and dividing it into five equal parts.


The use or study of X-rays and other rays to help view internal parts of the body as a guide to diagnosis as well as to treatment and its progress.
real expenditure
Expenditure expressed in terms which have been adjusted for inflation (for example, in 1989–90 dollars). This enables comparisons to be made between expenditures in different years.
recurrent expenditure
Expenditure on goods and services which are used up during the year—for example, salaries. It may be contrasted with capital expenditure.
The eye's ability to bend the light rays that enter it, to form an image at the back of the eye.
renal dialysis
See dialysis/haemodialysis.
residential aged care facilities
See nursing homes.
revascularisation ('re-vesselling')
Restoring adequate blood flow to the heart or other part of the body, usually after the supply has been reduced or blocked, as in angina or a heart attack. Revascularisation includes methods such as angioplasty and coronary artery bypass graft surgery.
rheumatic fever
An acute, serious disease that affects mainly children and young adults and can damage the heart valves, the heart muscle and its lining, the joints and the brain. Is brought on by a reaction to a throat infection by a particular bacterium. Now very rare in the non-Indigenous population, it is still at unacceptably high levels among Indigenous Australians living in remote areas.
See rheumatic heart disease.
rheumatic heart disease
Chronic disease from damaged heart valves caused by earlier attack(s) of rheumatic fever.
rheumatoid arthritis
A chronic, multisystem disease whose most prominent feature is joint inflammation, most often affecting the hand joints in symmetrical fashion. Can occur in all age groups but most commonly appears between ages 20 and 40 years. Its causes are not certain but involve auto-immune processes.
risk factor
Any factor which represents a greater risk of a health disorder or other unwanted condition or event. Some risk factors are regarded as causes of disease, others are not necessarily so. Along with their opposites, protective factors, risk factors are known as determinants.
rubella (German measles)
A communicable disease of children and young adults which has mild symptoms but which often causes serious birth defects if it occurs in a mother during the first 3 months of pregnancy. It is preventable by vaccination.


A disease commonly marked by sudden onset of headache, abdominal pain, fever, diarrhoea, nausea and sometimes vomiting, caused by some types of salmonella bacteria and often foodborne.
same-day patients
Admitted patients who are admitted to hospital and separated on the same day.
schizophrenia A group of serious mental disorders where imagined and disordered thoughts are key features, often with problems of behaviour, mood and motivation, and a retreat from social life.
The formal process by which a hospital records the completion of treatment and/or care for an admitted patient.
A communicable disease characterised by acute diarrhoea with fever, nausea and sometimes other symptoms, usually transmitted directly from person to person via the faecal–oral route. It is caused by Shigella species bacteria, including Shigella dysenteriae 1, the cause of dysentery.
sign (clinical)
An indication of a disorder that is detected by a clinician or other observer who examines the person affected. Unlike with symptoms, a patient does not necessarily notice or complain of a sign and many signs are detected only with special techniques used by the person doing the examination.
statistical significance
An indication from a statistical test that an observed difference or association may be significant or 'real' because it is unlikely to be due just to chance. A statistical result is usually said to be 'significant' if it would occur by chance only once in twenty times or less often.
See P value.
statistics (health)
Numerical description of a population's health and the factors affecting that health.
A metal mesh tube that is expanded within an artery at a point of narrowing and left there to hold the artery open.
See fetal death.
Poorly defined term referring to when a person is under significant psychological or physical pressure—real or perceived, acute or chronic. Examples include illness or injury, bereavement, family problems, work demands or job loss.
When an artery supplying blood to the brain suddenly becomes blocked or bleeds. Often causes paralysis of parts of the body normally controlled by that area of the brain, or speech problems and other symptoms.
substance use disorder
Disorder of harmful use and/or dependence on illicit or licit drugs, including alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs.
Deliberately ending one's own life.
Any indication of a disorder that is apparent to the person affected. Compare with sign (clinical).


A serious infection in which a bacterial nerve poison causes spasm of the jaw muscles (lockjaw) and body muscles generally. It is caused by a bacterium entering through a wound. The disease is preventable by vaccination.
Emergency 'clot-busting' drug treatment for a heart attack.
Clotting of blood, with the term usually applied to clotting within a blood vessel due to disease, as in a heart attack or stroke.
The sensation of ringing or other sounds in the ears when there is no external source of sound.
Torres Strait Islander
A person of Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as a Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he or she lives.
transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
A 'mini' stroke, with temporary problems in speech or paralysis that last for 24 hours or less, often only minutes. It is a strong warning sign of a more severe stroke.
tuberculosis (TB)
A bacterial disease that affects the lungs especially, with serious fever-like symptoms and destruction of tissue. It can spread to other parts of the body, causing secondary problems and often death if not treated.
See neoplasm.
Type 1 diabetes
A form of diabetes mostly arising among children or younger adults, marked by a complete lack of insulin and needing insulin replacement for survival.
Type 2 diabetes
The most common form of diabetes, occurring mostly in people aged 40 years or over, and marked by reduced or less effective insulin.


underlying cause of death
The condition, disease or injury initiating the sequence of events leading directly to death; that is, the primary or main cause. Compare with associated cause(s) of death.
Defined as a body mass index less than 18.5.
unstable angina
A form of angina that is more dangerous than normal angina but less so than a heart attack. It can feature chest pain that occurs at rest; and in someone who already has angina it can be marked by new patterns of onset with exertion or by pain that comes on more easily, more often or for longer than previously.
A marker of kidney failure, with a build-up in the blood of urea and related waste products which the kidneys would normally eliminate through the urine.


The process of administering a vaccine to a person to produce immunity against infection.
See immunisation.
An insect or other organism that transmits infectious micro-organisms from animal to human or human to human.
ventricular septal defect
A congenital defect of the heart that occurs as an opening in the wall that separates the left and right main pumping chambers (the ventricles).


whooping cough
See pertussis.


A disease typically involving acute diarrhoea, fever and other abdominal symptoms, caused by the bacteria Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia enterocolitica and often foodborne.

See also Hospitals A-Z glossary