Savita probe confirms legal, medical failures
Savita probe confirms legal, medical failures


An inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway has uncovered grave shortcomings in the care she received prior to her death, chiefly the failure to terminate her pregnancy when her life was threatened by a miscarriage.

The jury in the inquest today returned a unanimous verdict of death by medical misadventure.

Speaking in Galway this afternoon after the verdict, her husband Praveen Halappanavar said his wife was “left there to die”.

An Indian woman who was settled in Galway, Savita Halappanavar died in hospital in October after an abortion which might have saved her life was not carried out. At one point, she was told an abortion was not possible because Ireland was ‘a Catholic country’. She died from multi-organ failure from septic shock and E.coli, four days after she delivered a dead foetus.

The case reopened Ireland’s abortion debate and renewed demands for the introduction of long-awaited legislation to allow for abortion in certain emergency circumstances.

The jury today endorsed all nine recommendations of the coroner Ciaran MacLoughlin. His first recommendation is for clarification on when abortion can take place to save the life of the mother. There are also eight other recommendations covering basic medical procedures and protocols which he said had failed at University Hospital, Galway, including the handling of blood samples, management of sepsis (systemic infection), communication between medical teams and record keeping.

Mr Halappanavar said his wife’s care in Galway had been ‘horrendous, barbaric and inhumane’.

“Medicine is all about preventing the natural history of the disease and improving the patient’s life and health and look what they did. She was just left there to die. We were always kept in the dark,” he said.

“If Savita would have known her life was at risk she would have jumped off the bed, straight to a different hospital. But we were never told.”

“It’s horrendous, barbaric and inhumane the way Savita was treated in that hospital.”

Mr Halappanavar said he is still considering further action through the courts in Europe as be believes his wife’s right to life was breached.

“I haven’t got my answers yet why Savita died. I will get to the bottom of the truth,” he said.

Commenting on the verdict in the inquest Sinn Fein Health and Children spokesperson, Caoimhghin O Caolain TD, said that the outcome was “damning” and would have far-reaching implications.

“Savita was sadly let down by the healthcare system. The nine recommendations adopted by the jury arise directly from very serious shortcomings that were made clear in evidence during the inquest,” he said.

“The recommendation on the need for far clearer guidelines on the appropriateness and timing of termination to save the life of the mother, is especially important. Such guidelines, in tandem with legislation in line with the X case, need to be advanced as speedily as possible.”

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