Five deaths a month at Northampton General Hospital ‘avoidable’ report suggests

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FIVE deaths a month could allegedly have been prevented at Northampton General Hospital if better care had been given, new analysis has suggested.

Hospital bosses employed data analysts last year to explain why more patients seemed to be dying than expected.

‘Sloppy’ recording of information was found to be a major cause, and the figures have since dramatically improved.

But analysis of medical notes of some deceased patients suggested seven per cent of them might have been prevented.

If the numbers can be reliably applied to the total patient deaths between April 2011 and January 2012, five deaths a month could have been prevented on average.

Dr Sonia Swart, NGH’s medical director, in a new report, said: “In seven per cent of cases, the reviewers felt that better care might have prevented the death of the patient during the admission concerned.”

She added: “This is in line with international studies which have used this method of review to target quality improvement in their organisations.”

In one in four cases, admissions to hospital might have been avoided altogether if better advanced care planning had been in place, the analysts said.

However, in more positive news for patients, in just over three quarters of the cases the reviewers felt the deceased patients were given the care “they would have wished for their own family”.

For the others, the most common cause for concern was the number of different consultants involved in the care. In other cases it was felt the patient should have been allowed to die in their own home.

There was also better news for the reputation of the hospital in the report.

Overall death rate figures have significantly improved since worries were raised in a national report last year, new figures showed.

Health data analysts Dr Foster sparked concern last year when it declared that more patients than expected were dying at NGH.

Since it took on medical analysts to look at case notes in more detail, NGH is now almost on par with other UK hospitals.

For the 10 months up to January 2012, 839 people died at the hospital. This compared with the expected figure, worked out by a complex statistical calculation, of 879 deaths.