Regardless of your health insurance status, sometimes a trip to the hospital can result in you being admitted overnight or even longer.
The average stay in hospital will not only vary due to your illness or condition, but can also be influenced by the size and location of the hospital, according to an annual report from the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA).
The 'Hospital Performance: Length of stay in public hospitals' looks at the number of days spent in hospital by patients who were admitted for at least one night during 2011 and 2012.
In focus were 125 major public hospitals across Australia and 16 particular causes of admittance were highlighted, including childbirth, cellulitis, kidney infections and hip replacements.
Each condition has large variables in the length of hospital stay, due to the severity and complexity of the illness or disease.
However, there were some surprising results depending on the location of the hospital the patient was admitted into.
The report found that patients staying in metropolitan and big-city hospitals often spent four times as many days in a bed compared to hospitals of a similar size elsewhere.
Average hospital stays
In 2011-12, more than 5.7 million patients stayed in public hospitals across Australia, admitted for a total of 19.1 million hospital bed days.
The 125 major public hospitals studied in the NHPA research accounted for 4.6 million of the patient stays and 14.2 million of hospital bed days.
Of the patients admitted during the study, 82 per cent stayed in large public hospitals. Childbirth was the reason for a large majority of the bed days, with Cellulitis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) a close second and third.
In wider observations, the average length of stay for overnight acute care was 5.2 days for public hospitals and 4.7 days for private hospitals.
The NHPA study spotlighted the increased efficiency of private hospitals, as shorter stays can reduce wait times for new patients as well as reducing the cost per patient.
Longer stays are often due to complications around acute treatment and can be associated with a higher risk of adverse events.
Longer stays can also be due to factors unrelated to the patient's clinical condition, such as delays in consultation, or coordination with health professionals.
If you would like the option of receiving treatment as a private patient in a public or private hospital, consider your private health insurance options.