UK professor to lead Savita death investigation

A UK-based professor will head a health service investigation into the death of a pregnant Indian dentist in Ireland as she miscarried.

Sabaratnum Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s University of London, will lead a seven-strong team reviewing the death of Savita Halappanavar.

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

Other members of the Health Service Executive 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.

The HSE would not commit to a timeframe for the team to report back. Philip Crowley, HSE national director of quality and patient safety, said the team hopes to complete it soon.

“My interest is we conduct a fair, thorough and detailed analysis,” he said.

The review panel is communicating with the deceased woman’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, through his solicitor.

Mrs Halappanavar died on October 28 in Galway University Hospital after contracting septicaemia.

Her husband claims she was denied an abortion on medical grounds because a foetal heartbeat was present.

The HSE said the findings of the review will be shared immediately with the Halappanavar family.

The team plans to engage with him when he wishes and when he is available to do so.

Interviews will be conducted over the next three days, the HSE said.

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