Savita widower calls for independent investigation

The husband of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar who died following a miscarriage has called for an independent public inquiry into her death.

Praveen Halappanavar criticised an investigation launched by the Health Service Executive (HSE) because the team appointed includes employees from Galway University Hospital where his wife died.

“It does bother me that there are people from Galway hospital on the inquiry,” said Mr Halappanavar.

“I would prefer no Galway people on the inquiry. I will basically request that there will be no one from Galway on it.”

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

A seven-strong team chosen by the HSE is to begin a review of the death, with interviews and the examination of medical records.

The group will start questioning medics involved in the care of the 31-year-old, who died after suffering a miscarriage and contracting septicaemia.

They will spend the next three days interviewing the local team at Galway University Hospital.

Mr Halappanavar has objected to the appointment of three members of the team who all work at the hospital – Professor John Morrison, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, Brian Harte, consultant in anaesthetics, and Catherine Fleming, consultant in infectious diseases.

The widower, who is objecting to the inquiry members through a solicitor, also told the Irish Times that he believed there would have been no investigation if there had not been such widespread public interest in his wife’s death.

Chairman of the HSE investigation team, Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, insisted yesterday that the Galway consultants had no part in the care of Mrs Halappanavar.

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

He was appointed to head the team based on his internationally-renowned expertise.

The team will begin their investigation with intensive interviews with staff who cared for Mrs Halappanavar.

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

The expert panel is also expected to discuss the tragedy with Mr Halappanavar as part of its investigation. The HSE has insisted it will work on his terms and when he is available.

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.

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

Other members of the independent review team are: Cora McCaughan, HSE national incident management team; Cathriona Molloy, service user advocate, Patient Focus; and Geraldine Keohane, director of midwifery, Cork University Hospital.

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