3.09 Discharge against medical advice

This measure reports on hospitalisations where the patient left hospital against medical advice, or were discharged at their own risk.

Why is it important?

This measure reports on the rate at which Indigenous Australians leave hospital against medical advice or are discharged at their own risk. People who take their own leave from hospital are more likely to present again at emergency departments, and have higher death rates. The reasons for which Indigenous Australians take their own leave from hospital include: institutionalised racism, a lack of cultural safety, a distrust of the health system, family and social obligations, isolation and loneliness, a lack of understanding of the treatment they were receiving and feeling that the treatment had finished, and communication and language barriers between staff and patient (AHMAC 2017; Shaw 2016).

Related measures

Data sources

  • National Hospital Morbidity Database
  • National Non-admitted Patient Emergency Department Care Database


  • AHMAC 2017. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2017 report. Canberra: AHMAC.
  • Shaw C 2016. An evidence‑based approach to reducing discharge against medical advice amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. Vol. 14. Canberra: The Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.