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Husband may lodge complaint with Ombudsman


The husband of Savita Halappanavar is considering lodging a complaint to the Ombudsman to assert his ownership of his wife’s medical notes, his solicitor has said.

Gerard O’Donnell said he had taken instructions from Praveen Halappanavar to seek direction from the Ombudsman on whether he or Galway University Hospital owns her medical records.

Mr Halappanavar has objected to the use of his wife’s notes in a HSE inquiry into her death. He has said he has no faith in a HSE-run inquiry and does not want her notes used in it.

Mr O’Donnell had asked that the hospital, where Ms Halappanavar died last month, hand over the original medical notes. However, the HSE has said it owns them.

A spokesman for the Ombudsman said last night it was unlikely her office would have a role in this dispute.

Mr Halappanavar met Minister for Health James Reilly for 25 minutes yesterday in Galway.

Ms Halappanavar died on October 28th, having presented a week earlier at the hospital with back pain. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and had been found to be miscarrying. Mr Halappanavar says she asked repeatedly for a termination and this was refused as the foetal heartbeat was present.

The Health Information and Quality Authority will publish the terms of reference of its inquiry into her death next week.

The investigation, for which no time span is indicated, will make use of outside expertise, a spokesman indicated.

In a statement, the authority said it would investigate the safety, quality and standards of services provided by the HSE at Galway University Hospital to “critically ill patients, including critically ill pregnant women, as reflected in the care and treatment provided to Savita Halappanavar”.

Mr Halappanavar said after yesterday’s meeting with Mr Reilly that he was pleased to finally meet a Government representative four weeks after his wife’s death. He said he stressed to the Minister that he did not believe the HSE or Hiqa investigations would be far-reaching enough. “I’m just glad that we met and he just passed on his condolences to the family,” said Mr Halappanavar.

Mr O’Donnell said his client was prepared to go to the European Court of Human Rights if an independent public inquiry was not set up. Galway University Hospital last night confirmed it would co-operate fully with the Hiqa inquiry.

via Husband may lodge complaint with Ombudsman – The Irish Times – Sat, Nov 24, 2012.

via Husband may lodge complaint with Ombudsman – The Irish Times – Sat, Nov 24, 2012.

Key data on termination request ‘not recorded’


UCD students Stephen O'Reilly and Rebecca Ryan during a protest outside the Dáil about abortion legislation after Savita Halappanavar's death. photograph: alan betson

Crucial information including repeated requests for a termination were not recorded in Savita Halappanavar’s medical records, her husband’s solicitor claimed yesterday.

Gerard O’Donnell, representing Praveen Halappanavar, said the notes covering her care on Monday, October 22nd, when it is alleged she made her first request for a termination, were “particularly scant”.

“It’s almost as if a whole day is missing from the notes,” he said last night. He said while there were records kept of her having cups of tea or of her husband asking for extra blankets for her, there was none on the requested termination.

Ms Halappanavar died at the hospital on October 28th, having presented with severe backpain a week earlier. She had been 17-weeks pregnant and had been found to be miscarrying. Mr Halappanavar says she asked repeatedly, between Monday 21st and Wednesday 23rd, that the pregnancy be terminated. This was refused, he says, as a foetal heartbeat was present and he claims they were told: “This is a Catholic country.”

Catholic country

She contracted E-coli and septicaemia and died four days after the foetus.

“There is no reference in the notes to the fact a termination was requested,” said Mr O’Donnell. “It is extremely fortunate that there were other people in the room when one of the requests was made, on the Tuesday morning, to witness the request and the reference to Ireland being a Catholic country.”

Mr Halappanavar has said the first request was made on Monday 22nd and that the consultant said she would have to check if this was permissible.

Mr Halappanavar has told The Irish Times the consultant returned on Tuesday morning.

He said she told them a termination was not possible as long as the foetal heartbeat remained, and made the “Catholic country” reference.

Also in the room, he has said, were a family friend, two junior doctors and a midwife.

Mr O’Donnell said he wrote to Galway University Hospital on November 2nd asking for copies of Ms Halappanavar’s medical notes and received them on November 16th.

Gaps

Minister for Health James Reilly was asked about the claims of gaps in the health records in Sligo last night. He said: “Obviously this is of concern and this is a substantive matter for the investigation”.

HSE director general designate Tony O’Brien said information that Mr Halappanavar had that would “speak to any inconsistencies between what’s in the record and his personal knowledge would be of great value to the review team”.

A HSE spokeswoman said: “The investigation team has commenced its work and, as such, it would not be appropriate at this juncture to attempt to address matters which come within its remit. The investigation now under way will be important in terms of determining the completeness of information regarding the care provided to Ms Halappanavar.”

Meanwhile, advocacy group Patient Focus said its representative on the HSE inquiry team would walk away from any investigation which was not about getting to the bottom of what happened.

via Key data on termination request ‘not recorded’ – The Irish Times – Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

via Key data on termination request ‘not recorded’ – The Irish Times – Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

Reilly says new inquiry into Galway death is ‘not U-turn’


The expected announcement of a second State inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar is “an extra dimension, rather than a U-turn”, according to Minister for Health James Reilly.

The board of the Health Information and Quality Authority is expected to confirm today that it will undertake a statutory investigation into Ms Halappanavar’s death, following a request from the Health Service Executive.

It was unclear last night whether her husband Praveen, who says he will have nothing to do with the HSE inquiry, will co-operate with the investigation to be conducted by the authority, which is the State’s health watchdog.

His solicitor Gerard O’Donnell last night said he was “not ruling out” participation in the Hiqa inquiry. However, it was key for his client that it “sits in public, is open and witnesses are called”.

The authority, which has run well-received investigations into Tallaght hospital and misdiagnoses in the health system, conducts its investigations in private and does not take statements under oath but is free to draw up its own terms of reference.

Hiqa welcomed

Dr Reilly welcomed the involvement of Hiqa, saying it would provide “even greater ventilation” of the issues at stake in Ms Halappanavar’s death at Galway University Hospital, his spokesman said.

Asked why the Minister had not used his powers under the 2007 Health Act to order Hiqa to investigate the matter in the first place, he said the HSE was following a protocol, which requires it to get clarity about the facts involved and ensure that a safe service was being provided for patients.

“I wouldn’t see it as a U-turn. At all stages, the first thing the Minister wanted was absolute clarity about this death,” he said. Dr Reilly is due to meet staff from Galway University Hospital today, when he attends a meeting in nearby Merlin Park Hospital.

A special board meeting of Hiqa was held yesterday and is due to reconvene today. A spokesman would only say the board was considering the request received from the HSE.

Ms Halappanavar died at the hospital on October 28th, having presented with severe back pain a week earlier. She had been 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying. Mr Halappanavar says she asked repeatedly that the pregnancy be terminated. This was refused, he says, as a foetal heartbeat was present.

HSE director designate Tony O’Brien confirmed it was pursuing its own inquiry – now termed a “clinical review” – despite Mr Halappanavar’s refusal to participate.

Mr O’Brien said even if Ms Halappanavar’s family did not co-operate, the review “must be brought to a conclusion”. There was “no way” the inquiry could be stopped as it would be “criminally negligent” not to proceed.

He accepted the HSE had not been “as aware as it should have been” of the wider context and focused on the “clinical aspects” in its inquiry.

Mr Halappanavar alleged that repeated requests by him and his wife for her pregnancy to be terminated are not documented in her medical records. In contrast, requests for tea, toast and an extra blanket are documented.

President Michael D Higgins has defended his call for proper medical treatment for pregnant women i

via Reilly says new inquiry into Galway death is ‘not U-turn’ – The Irish Times – Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

via Reilly says new inquiry into Galway death is ‘not U-turn’ – The Irish Times – Fri, Nov 23, 2012.

Public inquiry demanded into death of woman refused abortion


Savita Halappanavar and her husband Praveen photographed at home in Galway. Ms Halappanavar, died a week after being admitted to University Hospital Galway last month when she was 17 weeks pregnant.

The death of Savita Halappanavar must be the subject of an independent public inquiry, according to a Galway-based surgeon who is a close friend of the 31-year-old woman and her husband Praveen.

Dr CVR Prasad, an orthopaedic surgeon at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway, said such an inquiry must be taken out of the hands of the Health Service Executive or University Hospital Galway.

The Government is not ruling out an independent inquiry into the tragic death of Ms Halappanavar, who presented on October 21st with back pain at Galway University Hospital where she was found to be miscarrying at 17 weeks. She died of septicaemia on October 28th.

Her husband, an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, had described how she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated, given that she was in pain and was miscarrying. He said the request was refused by medical staff who said they could not do anything because there was still a foetal heartbeat. He said they were told that this was the law and that “this is a Catholic country”.

He said she spent more than three days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped. The dead foetus was removed, but Ms Halappanavar’s condition deteriorated and she died.

The HSE said last night an independent external expert in obstetrics and gynaecology would be appointed to strengthen the incident management team it has asked to investigate the circumstances of Ms Halappanavar’s death.

Next of kin

The terms of reference for this review and the members of the team were currently being finalised, a spokeswoman said. The team would liaise with Mr Halappanavar as next of kin.

“The process of incident review seeks to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, draw conclusions and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent a similar incident occurring again.” She extended the HSE’s deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar. Both the hospital and the HSE said they would not be commenting on the circumstances of the case.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny did not rule out an independent inquiry when it was suggested by Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. He said it was appropriate for Dr Reilly to first receive the reports of the hospital and the HSE.

The case, which attracted worldwide media attention yesterday, has increased pressure on the Government to legislate for the implications of the X case 20 years ago.

Dr Prasad, who visited Ms Halappanavar in hospital before she died, said: “Any inquiry should be public. That is the way it should be, it should not be conducted by the HSE or the hospital. It should be independent.I hope that might save the life of another women. This should never happen to another woman. Religion and medicine should never mix.”

Mr Halappanavar yesterday repeated his belief that his wife would not have died if she had been given the termination that the couple repeatedly asked for in the hospital. Asked whether he thought things could have turned out differently if a termination had been carried out, he said: “Yes of course.”

Speaking to The Irish Times from Belgaum in southwestern India, his wife’s home region, he said Ireland’s reputation for being a “good place to have a baby” was among the factors in their decision to start a family here. “All our friends had great stories to tell about the babies they had in Ireland. So we decided we’d go there. We had heard Ireland was a good place to have a baby. Most of our friends there had babies there and they’re all fine and so we decided: have a baby in Ireland.”

A postmortem has been carried out on Ms Halappanavar and the coroner has been notified. The couple came to Ireland in 2008. She had a dental post in Westport, Co Mayo.

Several hundred people gathered at Leinster House last night to demonstrate in favour of abortion legislation, while candle-lit vigils were held in Cork, Limerick and London. Further protests are planned in Dublin, Limerick, Belfast and Galway in coming days.

Minister for Health Dr James Reilly said it would be an extremely serious matter if there had been any hesitation in relation to Ms Halappanavar because of moral or religious beliefs. However, he said he had no evidence of the application of a Catholic bias in relation to treatment and he warned against prejudging the circumstances surrounding the death.

Dr Reilly said it was a terrible tragedy for the family involved. For the staff involved, it was an emotionally traumatic time and they were entitled to due process.

Speaking in the Dáil, he said he had asked his officials to consider the report of the expert group on abortion, which had been submitted to his department on Tuesday.

Deeply tragic

Independent Senator Ronan Mullen described the case as deeply tragic but said it should not be “used as a wedge by abortion campaigners”

He added: “Its regrettable that some people are seeking to use this tragedy as an argument for legislating for the Supreme Court decision in the X case”.

Two years ago, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland had failed to provide for abortion in circumstances where the mother’s life is at risk. The decision means Ireland has to legislate but Dr Reilly is facing resistance from within Fine Gael to any liberalisation of the laws on abortion.

via Public inquiry demanded into death of woman refused abortion – The Irish Times – Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

via Public inquiry demanded into death of woman refused abortion – The Irish Times – Thu, Nov 15, 2012.

Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital –


Savita Halappanavar, who was found to be miscarrying when admitted, died of septicaemia at University Hospital Galway

Two investigations are under way into the death of a woman who was 17 weeks pregnant, at University Hospital Galway last month.

Savita Halappanavar (31), a dentist, presented with back pain at the hospital on October 21st, was found to be miscarrying, and died of septicaemia a week later.

Her husband, Praveen Halappanavar (34), an engineer at Boston Scientific in Galway, says she asked several times over a three-day period that the pregnancy be terminated. He says that, having been told she was miscarrying, and after one day in severe pain, Ms Halappanavar asked for a medical termination.

This was refused, he says, because the foetal heartbeat was still present and they were told, “this is a Catholic country”.

She spent a further 2½ days “in agony” until the foetal heartbeat stopped.

Intensive care

The dead foetus was removed and Savita was taken to the high dependency unit and then the intensive care unit, where she died of septicaemia on the 28th.

An autopsy carried out by Dr Grace Callagy two days later found she died of septicaemia “documented ante-mortem” and E.coli ESBL.

A hospital spokesman confirmed the Health Service Executive had begun an investigation while the hospital had also instigated an internal investigation. He said the hospital extended its sympathy to the family and friends of Ms Halappanavar but could not discuss the details of any individual case.

Speaking from Belgaum in the Karnataka region of southwest India, Mr Halappanavar said an internal examination was performed when she first presented.

“The doctor told us the cervix was fully dilated, amniotic fluid was leaking and unfortunately the baby wouldn’t survive.” The doctor, he says, said it should be over in a few hours. There followed three days, he says, of the foetal heartbeat being checked several times a day.

“Savita was really in agony. She was very upset, but she accepted she was losing the baby. When the consultant came on the ward rounds on Monday morning Savita asked if they could not save the baby could they induce to end the pregnancy. The consultant said, ‘As long as there is a foetal heartbeat we can’t do anything’.

“Again on Tuesday morning, the ward rounds and the same discussion. The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita [a Hindu] said: ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic’ but they said there was nothing they could do.

“That evening she developed shakes and shivering and she was vomiting. She went to use the toilet and she collapsed. There were big alarms and a doctor took bloods and started her on antibiotics.

“The next morning I said she was so sick and asked again that they just end it, but they said they couldn’t.”

Critically ill

At lunchtime the foetal heart had stopped and Ms Halappanavar was brought to theatre to have the womb contents removed. “When she came out she was talking okay but she was very sick. That’s the last time I spoke to her.”

At 11 pm he got a call from the hospital. “They said they were shifting her to intensive care. Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday but by 7pm on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren’t functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her.”

Mr Halappanavar took his wife’s body home on Thursday, November 1st, where she was cremated and laid to rest on November 3rd.

The hospital spokesman said that in general sudden hospital deaths were reported to the coroner. In the case of maternal deaths, a risk review of the case was carried out.

External experts were involved in this review and the family consulted on the terms of reference. They were also interviewed by the review team and given a copy of the report.

via Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital – The Irish Times – Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

via Woman ‘denied a termination’ dies in hospital – The Irish Times – Wed, Nov 14, 2012.

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