Hospital Acquired Complications in Tasmania: prevalence and health economic implications

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

In 2017 all Australian jurisdictional governments signed the National Health Reform Agreement. An important element of this is the focus on improving outcomes for patients admitted to hospital, including reducing hospital acquired complications (HACs). HACs occur during inpatient episodes of care and are largely a result of inadequate clinical risk mitigation strategies. The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care have published a list of 16 HACs, including falls resulting in fracture or intracranial injury, healthcare-associated infection, gastrointestinal bleeding, medication complications and delirium. HACs typically involve longer length of stay and increased medical and surgical interventions, resulting in poorer patient outcomes and increased costs. In 2018 the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) introduced an adjustment to funding hospital admissions in which a HAC occurred. In practice, this means that the incremental costs associated with HACs are not funded.

The aims of this PhD project are to characterise the predominant HACs occurring in Tasmanian public hospitals and estimate the cost to the state government.

Four studies will be undertaken:

  1. Describe the prevalence of HACs in Tasmanian public hospitals in 2021;
  2. Identify predictors of HACs;
  3. Assess HACs associated with low-value care; and
  4. Estimate the annual cost impacts of HACs for Tasmanian hospitals.

These studies will be conducted using deidentified linked datasets. An important aspect of this work will include engaging with government stakeholders to ensure the research reflects current and future policy directions, and provides evidence to support improved health service provision.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Barbara de Graaff


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements and the following additional eligibility criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants with a background in public health, health services, or health economics/economics are preferred

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Barbara de Graaff, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including contact details of two referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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