The objective of this research was to document the most common first-recorded adverse events of inpatient care for lung cancer in Victoria, Australia. The sample comprised record abstracts for 3642 admissions (overnight or longer) of adult patients with lung cancer, extracted from the Victorian Admitted Episodes Database for 2000-2001. The method involved analysis of diagnoses prefixed with "C" (an indicator for diagnoses which arose only after hospitalisation), calculation of complication rates by intervention type, and analysis of complication type by intervention. Overall, 23% of episodes recorded at least one in-hospital complication, with highest rates for radiotherapy and surgical interventions. The highest surgical complication rates were for pneumonectomies, lobectomies, and lung resections. Nausea and vomiting were the most common first-recorded complications for both chemotherapy and radiotherapy. It was concluded that complications through the use of morbidity data may offer a timely and economical method for health care organisations to screen large numbers of patient episodes.