Review begins into Savita death

Sabaratnum Arulkumaran

A high-level review into the death of pregnant Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar is to begin with interviews and the examination of medical records.

A seven-strong team will start quizzing medics involved in the care of the 31-year-old, who died after suffering a miscarriage and contracting septicaemia.

The review panel, appointed by the Health Service Executive (HSE), will spend the next three days interviewing the local team at Galway University Hospital, where Mrs Halappanavar died.

It will also analyse case notes and medical guidelines to ensure she received the best possible care before her death.

Mrs Halappanavar died on October 28. Her husband Praveen Halappanavar claimed she was refused an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

The team is also expected to discuss the tragedy with Mr Halappanavar as part of its investigation. The HSE has been communicating with him through his solicitor.

No overall timeframe has been set for the completion of the report, which will be returned to HSE national director of quality and patient safety Philip Crowley.

Internationally renowned obstetrics and gynaecology expert Sabaratnam Arulkumaran was appointed chairman of the panel.

The London-based professor serves as head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s University of London.

He is also a lead researcher in foetal monitoring, intrapartum care, high-risk pregnancy, obstetric litigation and safety in maternity care.

The HSE is expected to share the findings of the investigation immediately with Mrs Halappanavar’s family.

Other members of the HSE independent review team are: Cora McCaughan, HSE national incident management team; Cathriona Molloy, service user advocate, Patient Focus; Professor John Morrison, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, Galway University Hospital; Geraldine Keohane, director of midwifery, Cork University Hospital; Catherine Fleming, consultant in infectious diseases at Galway University Hospital; and Brian Harte, consultant in anaesthetics at Galway University Hospital.

Sinn Féin will table a motion in the Dail tonight calling for an immediate change to abortion laws.

It will urge the Government to legislate on the 20-year-old Supreme Court ruling on the X Case – allowing women an abortion when their lives are in danger.

It is understood the Government will produce a counter-motion to ensure Sinn Fein is voted down, but a number of Labour backbenchers have suggested the counter-motion will have to be sufficiently progressive to get their vote.

TDs will debate the issue and are expected to vote tomorrow.

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