Draft report 'vindicates' husband's account of Savita's care

Thu, Feb 14, 2013, 00:00

Praveen Halappanavar’s account of the treatment of his wife, Savita, in Galway University Hospital last year has been vindicated by leaks of the draft report into her death, his solicitor said yesterday.

Solicitor Gerard O’Donnell said Mr Halappanavar was too upset to talk after discovering that details of the HSE report into his wife’s death were leaked. Yesterday’s Evening Herald carried extracts of an early draft of the report.

“If what was published today were extracts from the report then all they do is, in some ways, vindicate what my client said from the outset as to the way his wife was treated at University Hospital Galway,” Mr O’Donnell said.

Ms Halappanavar died at the hospital on October 28th last year, a week after she presented with back pain and was found to be miscarrying.

The draft report deals with a number of issues relating to her death, including whether her request for a termination should have been considered and whether guidelines on terminations in general are adequate. It examines the lines of responsibility of the staff providing her care as well as the follow-up that occurred where tests were carried out.

Differences of opinion

The draft report also looks at how busy staff were with other patients at the time as well as the records kept of her treatment. Interviews carried out by the investigating group uncovered differences of opinion between some staff on key aspects of her treatment.

Mr Halappanavar told The Irish Times when it broke the story of his wife’s death last November that she had repeatedly asked for a termination. While this was not recorded in the medical notes, it has been confirmed in statements by hospital staff to the coroner.

The HSE last night expressed disappointment at the leaking of the draft investigation report and said a final “robust” report would be published “as soon as practicably possible”.

A spokeswoman said the terms of reference of the investigation team promised the investigation would be “cognisant of the rights of all involved to privacy and confidentiality; dignity and respect; due process and natural and constitutional justice”.

Rigorous fact checking

She said the report would go through a “rigorous fact checking and verification process” before completion. “It would be inappropriate to comment on the contents of media reports, given that a final report has not yet been completed.”

Minister for Health James Reilly declined to comment on the leak, saying he had not seen the report. “I haven’t seen it and I don’t have it,” he said. He expected to receive the HSE’s report in 10 days and he intended to publish it “thereafter”, provided there were no legal reasons not to do so.

More than 20 members of staff were sent a copy of the draft report last month and asked to respond if they felt there were inaccuracies. Mr Halappanavar was not given a copy because he did not co-operate with the inquiry but he is due to receive the final report.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted the priority should be to explain the findings to Mr Halappanavar. Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher called for the report to be published immediately.

The Pro Life Campaign, an anti-abortion group, said the leaked details of the report showed the need for guidelines regarding treatment of mothers in pregnancy. Action on X, a pro-choice group, said it believed a lack of guidelines on abortion played a part in Ms Halappanavar’s death.

The inquest into her death opens on April 8th at Galway Courthouse.