Two patient cohorts were analysed as part of the study, patients admitted in the nine-months prior to the introduction of Aboriginal Liaison Officers (February 2021), and patients admitted nine-months following the introduction of Aboriginal Liaison Officers.

Dr Morgan Berman, a Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) member and Orthopaedic Registrar was based at Alice Springs Hospital during the trial period and said the introduction of Aboriginal Liaison Officers significantly reduced the risk of self-discharge in Indigenous patients.

“At Alice Springs Hospital, we noted a high percentage of Indigenous patients self-discharging before their treatment had concluded, and in some instances before surgery,” Dr Berman said.

“Risk factors for self-discharge were younger in age, pensioners or unemployed. They were more likely to be residents of Alice Springs Town-Camps or live in communities within 51 to 100 kilometres of Alice Springs Hospital. 

“They became members of the orthopaedic multi-disciplinary team, accompanied doctors on daily ward rounds, patient reviews, and helped make hospitals a culturally safe place for Indigenous patients.

“Some Indigenous men and women are sceptical of Australia’s health care system. The Aboriginal Liaison Officers played a key role brokering appropriate treatment and insured significantly fewer Indigenous patients self-discharged before they had concluded treatment.

“The decision to trial Aboriginal Liaison Officers within the orthopaedic multi-disciplinary team at Alice Springs Hospital was successful in improving patient care, and Aboriginal Liaison Officers continue to be a part of the orthopaedic team.

“The results of our trial highlights the importance of Aboriginal Liaison Officers in hospitals servicing areas with high Indigenous populations.”

Dr Berman’s research was unveiled at the the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress in Adelaide (1-5 May).

The Congress is the largest multi-disciplinary surgical meeting held in the southern hemisphere and brings together some of the top surgical and medical minds from across Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, and the rest of the world.

For more information about the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress, please visit:


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