HSE unveils membership of Halappanavar inquiry team
The Health Service Executive today unveiled details of its inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar.
Ms Halappanavar (31) died of septicaemia at the hospital a week after she had presented miscarrying her 17-week pregnancy. Her husband has said she repeatedly requested a termination over a three-day period but this had been refused on the grounds that Ireland was a “Catholic country” and a foetal heartbeat was still present.
At a press conference this afternoon, the HSE said the investigation will seek to identify any shortcomings that may be identified in the clinical care provided to Ms Halappanavar.
The seven-member investigating team will be chaired by Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's Hospital, University of London.
The team is made up of a number of experts in the relevant disciplines; including anaesthesia, midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology. They are Cora McCaughan, head of the executive’s Serious Incident Management Team; Geraldine Keohane, director of midwifery at Cork University Hospital; Dr Catherine Fleming, Infectious Diseases Consultant at Galway University Hospital; Dr Brian Harte, Consultant in Anaesthetics, Galway University Hospital and Prof John Morrison, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Galway University Hospital.
It also includes an independent patient representative, Cathriona Molloy of Patient Focus.
The HSE said the team has been in contact with legal representatives of Ms Halappanavar’s husband, Praveen, and “will engage with him as part of the investigation process”.
The draft terms of reference for the inquiry have already been sent to Mr Halappanavar, who has arrived back in Ireland from India and is staying with friends in Galway.
The HSE did not give a timeframe for completion, but said the inquiry “will be completed within an expeditious timeframe”. Interviews will be conducted over the next three days, the HSE said.
The final report will be provided to the HSE’s national director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr Philip Crowley.
The terms of reference were not been published by the HSE However, Dr Crowley said this evening that the terms were not a "mystery" and that the investigating team would be looking at all of the circumstances surrounding Ms Halappanavar's death.
“My interest is we conduct a fair, thorough and detailed analysis,” he said.
“The process of clinical incident review seeks to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, identify any casual or contributory factors, draw conclusions, and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent, insofar as it’s possible, and reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring again,” the HSE said. “Galway University Hospital has committed to cooperating fully with the team to ensure that this investigation can be completed as quickly as possible."