Hospital staff 'distressed' by case leaks
Staff at the hospital where Savita Halappanavar died are suffering “significant distress” as a result of the leaking of confidential information, a preliminary inquest into her death has heard.
Lawyers for Galway University Hospital said information from statements had been passed on and commented on, often in a misleading way. This was causing significant upset to staff who were asking why their point of view was not being advanced, Declan Buckley SC, for the hospital, said.
It has been widely reported that medical records confirmed Ms Halappanavar requested a termination while a patient in the hospital last October but that it was refused.
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.
Her husband says she asked several times for a termination as the miscarriage lasted four days. This was refused, he says, because a foetal heartbeat was present. She died three days after the foetal heartbeat stopped and the womb contents were removed. A postmortem found she died of septicaemia “documented antemortem” and E.coli ESBL.
At yesterday’s hearing, Mr Buckley called for coroner Dr Ciarán McLoughlin’s intervention to prevent “an unedifying spectacle” in the event of further releases of information before the full inquest is held.
He said the hospital staff had made more than 50 statements and this level of co-operation came with an understanding of confidentiality in relation to the content of the statements.
“Unfortunately over the last 24 hours, those statements have been referenced, and their contents discussed as to the implications to be drawn from one statement in particular. This is not only unhelpful but works against the function that you have taken on.”
Mr Buckley called on the coroner to impress on all parties statements were not to be released or commented on, particularly in circumstances where there was a lack of accuracy about the information.
Dr McLoughlin said his function was to ensure that the truth came out, that all the facts were investigated but that required a certain propriety in relation to the confidentiality of documents.
Lawyers for the hospital and for Ms Halappanavar’s husband Praveen told the coroner they would treat the statements provided to them in a confidential manner.