Preventable hospitalisation rates 4.5 times higher for people with intellectual disabilities, research reveals
By Eliza Hull
In March, Sydney man Jack Kelly had a high temperature and was taken to hospital.
- Research examined the hospital admissions of 92,000 people with intellectual disabilities
- It found a significantly higher rate of preventable hospitalisations, compared to the general population
- Some conditions, such as epilepsy, had an admission rate 22 times higher for people with intellectual disabilities
Mr Kelly, 25, lives with cerebral palsy and intellectual disability, and resides in supported group accommodation, where a registered nurse is on call 16 hours a day.
When he had a high temperature, he was taken to a nearby hospital, where he spent six hours waiting in the emergency department to be seen by a doctor before being discharged the next day.
“Due to lack of training with people with intellectual disability, my support workers were too scared, they didn’t know what to do, so I ended up waiting in the hospital emergency system,” he said.
“The issue is that in the night, my home is unattended by a nurse due to lack of NDIS funding, so I had to be hospitalised for something I should have been able to be treated at home with.”
Mr Kelly said the trip was preventable, and he’s not alone in holding that view.
People with intellectual disability are being preventably hospitalised at a rate 3.5 to 4.5 times higher than the general population, according to new research published on Monday in the Australian Medical Journal.
Researchers are calling for urgent action to address the impacts of the lack of training and awareness within the health care sector on people with intellectual disabilities.