An assessment of patient safety is to be undertaken at Wishaw General, Monklands General in Airdrie and Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, which all had higher than average mortality rates during the first three months of this year.
As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Times, figures published by the Information Services Division (ISD) Scotland show that while overall hospital mortality in Scotland has fallen by 11.6% during the last five years, Wishaw, Hairmyres and Monk-lands have higher ratios for the latest quarter for which figures are available.
NHS Scotland clinical director Professor Jason Leitch has asked HIS to work with NHS Lanarkshire to examine their approach to patient safety.
Professor Leitch said: "We expect all health boards to ensure patient safety is their top priority and the Scottish Patient Safety Programme has been working for over five years to deliver ways to make healthcare safer.
"Although a high hospital standardised mortality rate (HSMR) is not by itself a definitive measure of the quality and safety of care, it serves as an important prompt for further investigation.
"Where HSMR sugg-ests a potential issue, a health board must be able to demonstrate that it is taking app-ropriate action to investigate and resolve any problems found to be causing a higher than expected HSMR, and it is reassuring that NHS Lanarkshire is already working on an action plan to address this.
"That is why I have also commissioned Healthcare Improve-ment Scotland (HIS) to undertake a rapid ass-essment, in partnership with NHS Lanarkshire, of the reasons behind the HSMR figures in Lanarkshire and to see if the improvement measures can be strengthened and accelerated."
At Hairmyres, which had a 1.04 HSMR ratio in the last quarter, 234 patients died between January and March of this year against a predicted figure of 226.
There were 289 deaths at Wishaw in the same period, an HSMR of 1.10.
At Monklands, 290 people died between January and March, giving an HSMR of 1.38.
The average Scottish HSMR for the first quarter was 0.92.
Scottish Labour health spokesman Neil Findlay MSP said: "Behind every one of these statistics is a grieving family. We welcome any action to investigate this worrying situation. But we shouldn't be waiting until a health board is at the point of crisis before action is taken."
HIS said the review will help to understand if there are any under-lying issues which require additional support to be resolved.
Robbie Pearson, director of Scrutiny and Assurance for HIS, said: "We will carry out a rigorous and indep-endent review of NHS Lanarkshire."
Dr Iain Wallace, medical director for NHS Lanarkshire, said: "We welcome the support and involve-ment of HIS to under-take an assessment of the local action plans we are progressing, along with their detailed review to identify any further improvement measures that can be implemented."