Notes on the data: Avoidable deaths by sex and cause

Avoidable deaths by sex and cause, 2016 to 2020


Policy context:  In 2010, the National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) included a performance indicator called Potentially Avoidable Deaths (PI-20). The specification for this indicator was endorsed by the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council in 2009 based on advice from the National Health Information Standards and Statistics Committee (NHISSC).

On 4 December 2013, NHISSC agreed to the re-establishment of the Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations/Potentially Avoidable Deaths (PPH/PAD) Working Group to finalise specification of this performance indicator for the 2015 NHA report. Throughout 2014, work was done by the PPH/PAD Working Group, with further revisions by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), and including additional NHISSC comments from several states. It also included an examination of the international work in avoidable mortality.

Deaths determined to be avoidable are limited to those before 75 years of age, other than for Acute lymphoid leukaemia/Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, where the limit is 0 to 44 years.

The data presented in this dataset are those listed in the PI-16 Potentially avoidable deaths, 2020.

Deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people determined as potentially avoidable represent 79.3% of all deaths at all ages; this is 2.5 times the proportion for non-Indigenous Australians.



Deaths data

For deaths data released since 2007, the ABS has applied a staged approach to the coding of cause of death which affects the number of records available for release at any date. In general, the latest year’s data is preliminary, the second latest is revised and the data for the remaining years is final. For further information about the ABS revisions process see the following and related sites

However, data published here are from the following releases: 2016 and 2017, final; 2018, revised; and 2019 and 2020, preliminary.

Indicator detail

Deaths are defined as avoidable in the context of the present health system, based on the NHA PI-16 Potentially avoidable deaths, 2020.

Not all of the causes of avoidable mortality are shown in this atlas as some have too few cases to be reliable indicators at the small area level.

Note: Some of the selected avoidable mortality indicators comprise the same condition(s)/ ICD codes as the selected premature mortality indicators presented in the data/ maps.

Data quality

Almost all deaths in Australia are registered. However, Indigenous status is not always recorded, or recorded correctly. The incompleteness of Indigenous identification (referred to as completeness of coverage) means that the number of deaths registered as Indigenous is an underestimate of the actual number of deaths which occur in the Indigenous population. It should also be noted that completeness of coverage is likely to vary between geographical areas.

While there is incomplete coverage of Indigenous deaths in all state and territory registration systems, some jurisdictions have been assessed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as having a sufficient level of coverage to enable statistics on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mortality to be produced. Those jurisdictions are New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Potentially avoidable mortality (0-74 years)

ICD-10 codes/ specifications in scope are as specified below

Cause of death group

ICD-10 codes

Limits (age, sex)

Selected invasive infections A38-A41 A46, A48.1, G00, G03, J02.0, J13-J16, J18, L03  
Viral pneumonia and influenza J10-J12  
HIV/AIDS B20-B24  
Colorectal C18-C21, C26.0  
Skin C43, C44  
Breast C50 Female
Cervix C53  
Prostate C61  
Kidney C64  
Thyroid C73  
Hodgkin's disease C81  
Acute lymphoid leukaemia/Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia C91.0 0-44 years
Diabetes E10-E14  
Diseases of the circulatory system    
Rheumatic and other valvular heart disease I00-I09, I33-I37  
Hypertensive heart and renal disease I10-I13  
Ischaemic heart disease I20-I25  
Cerebrovascular diseases I60-I69  
Heart failure I50, I51.1, I51.2, I51.4, I51.5  
Pulmonary embolism I26  
Diseases of the genitourinary system    
Renal failure N17-N19  
Diseases of the respiratory system    
COPD J40-J44  
Asthma J45, J46  
Diseases of the digestive system    
Peptic ulcer disease K25-K27  
Maternal & infant causes    
Complications of perinatal period P00-P96  
Other conditions    
Complications of pregnancy, labour or the puerperium O00-O99  
Selected external causes of morbidity and mortality    
Falls W00-W19  
Fires, burns X00-X09  
Suicide and self-inflicted injuries X60-X84, Y87.0  
Misadventures to patients during surgical and medical care Y60-Y69  
Medical devices associated with adverse incidents in diagnostic and therapeutic use Y70-Y82  
Surgical and other medical procedures as the cause of abnormal reaction of the patient, or of later complication, without mention of misadventure at the time of the procedure Y83-Y84  
Other external causes of morbidity and mortality    
Transport accidents V01-V99  
Exposure to inanimate mechanical forces W20-W49  
Exposure to animate mechanical forces W50-64  
Accidental drowning and submersion W65-W74  
Other accidental threats to breathing W75-W84  
Exposure to electric current, radiation and extreme ambient air temperature and pressure W85-W99  
Contact with heat and hot substances X10-X19  
Contact with venomous animals and plants X20-X29  
Exposure to forces of nature X30-X39  
Accidental poisoning by and exposure to noxious substances X40-X49  
Overexertion, travel and privation X50-X57  
Accidental exposure to other and unspecified factors X58-X59  
Assault X85-Y09  
Event of undetermined intent Y10-Y34  
Legal interventions and operations of war Y35-Y36  
Drugs, medicaments and biological substances causing adverse effects in therapeutic use Y40-Y59  
Sequelae of external causes of morbidity and mortality Y85-Y89  

Geography: Data available by Indigenous Area, Primary Health Network, Quintile of socioeconomic outcomes (based on IRSEO) and Remoteness Area


Numerator:  Avoidable deaths for the above categories, Aboriginal population aged 0 to 74 years


Denominator:  Aboriginal population aged 0 to 74 years


Detail of analysis:  Average annual indirectly age-standardised rate per 100,000 Aboriginal population (aged 0 to 74 years); and/or indirectly age-standardised ratio, based on the Australian standard


Source:  Data compiled by PHIDU from deaths data based on the 2016 to 2020 Cause of Death Unit Record Files supplied by the Australian Coordinating Registry and the Victorian Department of Justice, on behalf of the Registries of Births, Deaths and Marriages and the National Coronial Information System. The population is the proportional estimated resident population (erp), developed by PHIDU, 2016 to 2020 average: click herefor more details.


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