Watchdog seeks details from HSE
The Health Information and Quality Authority has sought assurances from Galway University Hospital and the HSE that proper standards of safe care were adhered to in the treatment of Savita Halappanavar.
The authority wrote to the hospital on Wednesday, and to the HSE yesterday, asking for further information about the Ms Halappanavar’s death late last month. A reply was sought by the middle of next week.
A spokesman said the authority, which has responsibility for monitoring standards in Irish healthcare, would not be commenting until a response was received, so as not to prejudice other investigations by the hospital and the HSE.
The HSE’s investigation into Ms Halappanavar’s death will be led by its director of quality and patients’ safety, Dr Philip Crowley, Minister for Health James Reilly said yesterday. An expert in obstetrics and gynaecology from Northern Ireland has been approached to be a member of the investigating team.
Dr Reilly said he didn’t want to see either investigation – the HSE’s one or the hospital’s internal one – delayed one minute longer than necessary or to leave Ms Halappanavar’s family in doubt.
He expressed concern about any perception of a lack of independence on the part of the investigation but said he would await the coroner’s report “which I hope will be expedited”.
Dr CVR Prasad, a former consultant at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway who now works at the Galway Clinic, and a close friend of the Halappanavar family, has called for an independent inquiry into the 31-year-old dentist’s death.
Ms Halappanavar presented on October 21st with back pain at Galway University Hospital where she was found to be miscarrying at 17 weeks. She died of septicaemia on October 28th.Her husband, Praveen, has alleged that doctors refused several requests for a medical termination because the foetus’s heartbeat was present.
Meanwhile Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, who received the report from the expert group on abortion yesterday, called for “legal clarity” on the abortion issue.
Speaking in the Dáil, he said the Government would consider whether the report should be published. This would not be the seventh government to ignore the issue, he said.
Minister for Communications Pat Rabbitte also said there was an urgency about bringing clarity to the law in the area of abortion.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Dr Peter Boylan, of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said it was time for politicians to have the courage of their convictions.
He added that Ireland needed to act like an “adult state” on the issue of abortion.
On a separate issue, Dr Reilly also indicated he was due to receive a report on two further maternal deaths that occurred this year in an Irish hospital. He said it was not clear what the cause or nature of the deaths was, but they happened “two days running with two separate teams and two different theatres”.
Last October The Irish Times reported that two mothers had died in childbirth in the Coombe women’s hospital in Dublin within 48 hours of each other. The hospital recorded five maternal deaths in the previous 11 years. In both cases, the deaths occurred shortly after the women had delivered their children by Caesarean section. Both the deceased women’s children are alive.
Both deaths were subject to the normal internal investigation procedures within the HSE as well as reporting requirements to the coroner. Dr Reilly said he expected to get a full update on the cases from the HSE.
* This article was amended on November 16th, 2012 to correct a factual error