Halappanavar to sue HSE for negligence over Savita death

Solicitor says there are multiple grounds for the claim

Praveen Halappanavar is to issue medical negligence proceedings in the High Court against Galway University Hospital over the death of his wife, Savita.

His solicitor, Gerard O'Donnell, told The Irish Times last night there were multiple grounds including, "failing to treat, failing to diagnose, failing to chart, failing to do tests, failing to follow up blood tests, failures at every level".

Mr Halappanavar’s claim will be for injuries, distress and for the loss of his wife.

Ms Halappanavar (31) died at Galway University Hospital on October 28th last. She had presented a week earlier with severe back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant and was found to be miscarrying. Her request for a termination was refused because the foetal heartbeat was still present. She was told a termination was not possible in such circumstances because "it's a Catholic thing".


Mr O’Donnell said the question of whether the case would go to court depended on whether the HSE and the hospital contested the claim.

The hospital and the HSE have apologised for the events surrounding Ms Halappavar's death. They have not publicly accepted liability. Mr Halappanavar also expects to meet the Minister for Health James Reilly next week. Mr O'Donnell said he and his client wanted to know the Minister's reason for referring the HSE report to the Irish Medical Council and the Irish Nursing and Midwifery Board.

Minister's referral
He said it was open to his client to take cases to the fitness to pracise committees of the IMB and INMB, but if the Minister's referral of the HSE report was to this end, "then there's no need for us to [take cases these bodies].

The HSE investigation found multiple failures in her care coupled with a lack of clarity on the part of Dr Astbury as to when she could legally intervene to perform an abortion.

Mr Halappanavar is dissatisfied with the HSE report because it does not answer why his wife was not treated and why she was allowed to become so seriously infected, according to Mr O’Donnell.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times