Background: The purpose of the study is to compare characteristics of Aboriginal patient hospital admissions with non-Aboriginal admissions to the Ophthalmology Unit of the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Methods: A retrospective review of separation data was undertaken of hospital inpatient and day surgery admissions to the Royal Adelaide Hospital Ophthalmology Unit for the period July 1997 to January 2005.
Results: There were 11 944 admissions to the Ophthalmology Unit (including inpatients and day surgery cases), of which 273 (2.29%) were Aboriginal patients. Of the total, 2779 (23.3%) patients were admitted for at least 24 h (inpatients), and 9165 (76.7%) stayed less than 24 h (mostly day surgery cases). Aboriginal patients comprised 6.8% of inpatient admissions, and 0.9% of admissions less than 24 h. The average age of Aboriginal patients (52.9 years) was significantly less than non-Aboriginal patients (62.6 years; P < 0.0001). The median length of stay for Aboriginal patients was 5 days compared with 3 days in non-Aboriginal patients. Aboriginal patients were more likely to be from interstate (RR 10.3 P < 0.0001), more likely to have diabetes mellitus (RR 2.7 P < 0.0001), and more likely to be admitted for cataract surgery (RR 4.18 P < 0.0001) and lid disorders (RR 6.04 P < 0.0001) than non-Aboriginal patients.
Conclusion: Aboriginal patients admitted to the Ophthalmology Unit were younger in age, more frequently from interstate, and had longer admissions than non-Aboriginal patients. These results have important implications for ophthalmic health-care planning.