Preventable hospital admissions for diabetes on the rise

More Australians are being hospitalised each year for diabetes complications that could potentially be avoided by earlier diagnosis and better management.

The rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations due to diabetes complications has risen 4% between 2017-18 in Australia, while the rate of hospitalisations for other chronic conditions has decreased.[i] This means Australians with diabetes aren’t asking for, or getting, the help they need, leading to hospitalisations which could have been avoided with earlier treatment.

Sturt Eastwood, CEO, Diabetes Queensland, said this National Diabetes Week (July 14-20) he wants all Australians to know the symptoms of diabetes to curb unnecessary hospitalisations and avoid potentially life-changing complications.

“We’re not identifying the symptoms in time, and this is putting people at risk of complications including blindness, amputation, kidney damage, heart attack and stroke,” Mr Eastwood said.

A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare showed that 10,464 potentially preventable hospitalisations in Queensland had led to more than 49,000 days in hospital beds due to diabetes complications throughout the year.[ii]

“Once you’re diagnosed, both type 1 and type 2 diabetes need to be managed daily to reduce the risk of complications, improve quality of life and increase life expectancy. Neither form of the condition can be ignored.”

Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition that attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It cannot be prevented.  It can occur at any age but is most frequently diagnosed in children and young adults. Once the condition has developed, it requires urgent medical treatment and daily insulin.

Type 2 diabetes, which tends to develop progressively, can be delayed or prevented in nearly 60 per cent of cases through healthy eating and a more active lifestyle.

Mr Eastwood said diabetes is more widespread than most people know. “One in four Australian adults over the age of 25 lives with diabetes or pre-diabetes. If it’s not you, it’s someone you know,” he said.

Symptoms for type 1 can be remembered by the 4Ts

  • Toilet – are you going to the toilet a lot?
  • Thirsty – do you have an unquenchable thirst?
  • Tired – are you more tired than usual?
  • Thinner – have you recently lost a lot of weight?

Type 2 diabetes, known as the ‘silent condition’, is often harder to diagnose because the symptoms may remain mild for years, and people may associate changes in their health with getting older.

Symptoms of type 2 diabetes can include

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased thirst
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Feeling very tired
  • Blurry vision
  • Slow healing of cuts and wounds
  • Numbness or pain in hands or feet

Mr Eastwood said the increase in the rates of preventable hospitalisations because of diabetes complications could in part be due to people underestimating the effects of untreated type 2 diabetes.

“The sooner you’re diagnosed, the sooner you can learn how to manage your condition and delay or prevent complications. The next time you’re at the GP, ask them to check for diabetes. Make a diabetes test part of your annual GP checkup,” Mr Eastwood said.

Queenslanders with prediabetes and other risk factors for type 2 diabetes can take advantage of the free, State Government-funded healthy lifestyle program My health for life. The program has helped thousands of Queenslanders get their health back on track and reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. To find out more about the program, or to take the online health check, visit

[i] The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Admitted patient care 2017-18 report.

[ii] The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Potentially preventable hospitalisations in Australia by small geographic areas report.

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