Bosses at Northampton General Hospital are looking into the number of deaths of elderly people suffering with broken hips.
The hospital stressed it does not yet know if there is a common link between the deaths, but 34 people with ‘fractured neck of femurs’ have died since April 2012, compared with the predicted number of 20.
An NGH board report said fractured neck of femurs were “subject to particular scrutiny” and that there “continues to be cause for concern in relation to mortality”.
The hospital said the problem had arisen within the last six months and that an audit of care was under way. This has so far revealed the patients who died were already very ill.
Dr Sonia Swart, the hospital’s medical director, said: “This is a very elderly and frail group and we are not quite sure what the problem is.
“We are continuing to audit the patients who die.”
The board papers also flagged up the target of operating on broken hips within 48 hours had been missed every month, except September.
But Dr Swart said during last week’s board meeting: “You can’t say that doing just one thing differently would have produced a different outcome.”
“We have had this, on occasion, over 10 years. You address it and you think you have solved it, but it drifts back.”
Afterwards she added: “There are so many underlying medical conditions with this type of patient, so it’s not easy to say there is a link. We are not saying there is definitely something wrong, we are saying the deaths are higher than we expected.”
All the deaths are being reviewed by senior and junior staff in the trauma and orthopaedics department at monthly meetings.
A physician specialising in elderly care will also look at the care of patients who died after their operation.
An NGH spokesman said: “The trust has requested a detailed plan to ensure all issues are identified.”