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Time spent in hospitals and emergency departments

Average length of stay for selected conditions or procedures

These pages present length of stay information for a selected group of conditions and procedures. These conditions were chosen by a group of clinical experts and patient representatives to provide a mix of high volume surgical and medical conditions. Conditions and procedures are identified using the Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Group (AR-DRG) system.

Patient record systems are based around a patient's episode of care, a technical term for a period in hospital that ends in patient discharge, death, transfer to another hospital or a change in the type of care received e.g. from receiving surgery to replace an arthritic knee (acute care) to being transferred to part of the hospital that provides rehabilitation care. The end of an episode of care is referred to as a 'separation'. For the purposes of reporting average length of stay, episodes of care are referred to as 'stays'.

These pages present the following length of stay information:

  • Total number of stays: the total number of episodes of care for this AR-DRG
  • Percentage of overnight stays: the percentage of episodes of care for this AR-DRG that had a stay of one or more nights in hospital.
  • Number of overnight stays: the number of episodes of care for one or more nights
  • Total overnight patient bed days: the sum of all bed days for patients who stayed one or more nights for this condition or procedure
  • Average length of stay: this is the average (mean) length of stay (in days) for patients who stayed one or more nights for this condition or procedure
  • Comparison to peer group: for each AR-DRG, this figure compares the average length of stay for this hospital to the average length of stay of all similar hospitals (its peer group). This provides context for this hospital's average length of stay by contrasting it to the most comparable group of public hospitals.

Information is presented for financial years starting 1 July and ending 30 June.

Calculation of measures

The number of patient bed days divided by the number of stays, for each AR-DRG.

This measure only includes acute stays where the patient was not transferred to another health care facility within two days. Stays where the patient died are excluded. In addition, a small number of exceptionally long stays were excluded using statistical methods.


To see more about this measure view the data specification for this indicator on Australia's metadata online registry, METeOR.

 Specification External link, opens in a new window.[]

Peer groups

Peer groups allow hospitals to be compared to other similar hospitals. This minimises the effect of different hospital size, service provision and rurality when comparing hospitals.

For more detail on composition of these peer groups see Hospital Performance: Length of stay in public hospitals in 2011–12 (Technical Supplement).