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Summary

The aim of this audit was to investigate process, personnel and anaesthetic factors in relation to mortality among patients with proximal femoral fractures. A questionnaire was used to record standardised data about 1195 patients with proximal femoral fracture admitted to 22 hospitals contributing to the Hip Fracture Anaesthesia Network over a 2-month winter period. Patients were demographically similar between hospitals (mean age 81 years, 73% female, median ASA grade 3). However, there was wide variation in time from admission to operation (24–108 h) and 30-day postoperative mortality (2–25%). Fifty percent of hospitals had a mean admission to operation time < 48 h. Forty-two percent of operations were delayed: 51% for organisational; 44% for medical; and 4% for ‘anaesthetic’ reasons. Regional anaesthesia was administered to 49% of patients (by hospital, range = 0–82%), 51% received general anaesthesia and 19% of patients received peripheral nerve blockade. Consultants administered 61% of anaesthetics (17–100%). Wide national variations in current management of patients sustaining proximal femoral fracture reflect a lack of research evidence on which to base best practice guidance. Collaborative audits such as this provide a robust method of collecting such evidence.