HSE says inquiry to be fair, methodical and completed in shortest time possible
The official inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar will be fair and methodical and will examine all the factors that contributed to her death at Galway University Hospital, the Health Service Executive has said.
The HSE yesterday announced the membership of the investigation team, which is to be headed by a leading London-based obstetrician/gynae-cologist.
However, the terms of reference for the inquiry have not been published and a time frame for completion of the process has not been set out.
The HSE’s national director of quality and patient safety Dr Philip Crowley said yesterday the inquiry would identify all the facts through a fair and methodical investigation and identify any safety issues arising.
He said the investigation would be concluded in “the shortest” possible time. “It will be done expeditiously.”
Dr Crowley also said the inquiry team would be “examining all the factors that may have influenced the death of Ms Halappanavar . . . The terms of reference have not been published because we are committed to sharing them with Mr Halappanavar in the first instance and until we do so we will not publish them,” he said.
However, there would be no mystery or great surprises in them, he added.
“There is a standard, evidence-based international approach to investigating incidents and severe adverse events and that is the approach we will be taking in this case.”
Dr Crowley declined to set out a specific deadline for the completion of the inquiry, although he said it would be conducted expeditiously.
“There has been a lot of conjecture about the time frame and in some ways that is not very helpful. On occasion with investigations we can conduct the investigation quite promptly but there will be issues sometimes of a legal nature, personal justice or fair practice that will sometimes delay the timing of when we can share it with the public through the media,” he said.
“I am not going to commit to a precise time frame because then the time frame becomes the issue. My interest is that we conduct a thorough, fair, reasonable and detailed analysis of all the events that contributed to this sad event.”
Dr Crowley said he did not expect the inquiry would experience any legal impediments. He expressed confidence it would receive full co-operation.
The chairman of the inquiry team, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George’s Hospital, University of London, said the team would over the next three days examine the case notes, look at guidelines and interview the various people involved in the treatment of Ms Halappanavar.
“After that evidence is taken then we will analyse [it] and there might be incidents where we might want to ask further questions and we will address these further questions to these individuals concerned.”
Inquiry team: Who they are
* Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, professor and head of obstetrics and gynaecology and deputy head of clinical sciences, St George’s University of London, will chair the inquiry. With 30 years’ experience in clinical and academic practice in obstetrics he has investigated cases of maternal deaths in the UK
* Cathriona Molloy, a founding member of patient advocacy group Patient Focus.
* Cora McCaughanis co-chair of the HSE’s national incident management team
* Geraldine Keohaneis director of midwifery and nursing at Cork University Maternity Hospital
* Prof John J Morrisonis consultant obstetrician gynaecologist at Galway University Hospital
* Dr Catherine Flemingis consultant in infectious diseases at Galway University Hospital
* Dr Brian Harteis consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care at Galway University Hospital