Reducing discharge against medical advice amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients


Better management of this issue is essential and this work from the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research emphasises significant steps to be taken. To this approach should be added the need to reduce admissions and re-admissions in the first place. All means of keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (and all other Australians for that matter) safely in their communities and at home should be explored.

Issues Brief No 14 examines the role of Aboriginal Health Workers and Aboriginal Liaison Officers in enhancing cultural safety in hospitals and preventing instances of self-discharge in vulnerable patients in rural and remote communities. The report makes a number of recommendations to address rates of discharge against medical advice (DAMA) in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population:

  1. Improvement of current cultural competency training in acute care.

  2. Improvement of cultural safety frameworks in hospitals.

  3. Development of a nationally recognised scope of practice for Aboriginal Health Workers (AHWs) and Aboriginal Liaison Officers (ALOs)

  4. Increased recruitment and retention of AHWs/ALOs in acute care, especially in rural hospitals

  5. Development of more flexible community-based care models to provide culturally appropriate care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.

  6. Continued research into DAMA in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population.

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