4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2016-17 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/11/2017   
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HARM AND HARMFUL SIDE-EFFECTS

This chapter provides information about harm or harmful side-effects experienced by people in the last year. Respondents were asked whether they had experienced harm or harmful side-effects from any medication, medical care, treatment or test in that time, and if so:

  • where they had the medication, medical care, treatment or test that caused the most recent harm or harmful side-effects
  • whether they received information beforehand of the possible risk of harm or harmful side-effects
  • whether they received an explanation of their most recent harm or harmful side-effects
  • whether they understood the explanation provided
  • whether they sought treatment from a health professional
  • how satisfied they were with the way the situation was handled by the health professional for the most recent incident.

In 2016-17, 4% of people aged 15 years and over had experienced harm or harmful side-effects from medication, medical care, treatment or a test. This was consistent with 2011-12 when data on harm and harmful side-effects was last collected. Females were more likely to have experienced harm or harmful side-effects than males (5% compared with 3%). See Table 2.2 in Downloads.

Of those who had experienced harm or harmful side-effects, 42% were at a general practice, hospital or other compared with 59% at home or someone else's house. This ratio changed from 2011-12 where the proportions were 34% and 66%.

Across Australia, 61% of people aged 15 years and over who experienced harm or harmful side-effects had been informed of the risk of what might occur and 70% of people received an explanation of what happened after the event. Males were more likely than females to have received an explanation of the most recent harm or harmful side-effects (73% compared with 66%). See Table 25.2 in Downloads.

Nationally, three quarters of people (75%) saw a health professional about their most recent harm or harmful side-effects. See Tables 1 and 25.2 in Downloads.


Of the people who had seen a health professional for their most recent experience of harm or harmful side-effects, three quarters (76%) were either satisfied or very satisfied with the way the situation was handled. This has decreased since 2011-12, where 81% of people reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the way the situation was handled. See Table 25.2 in Downloads.