Praveen Halappanavar hopes case will be heard in spring

Hospital’s clinical chairman says ‘significant progress’ had been made

Praveen Halappanavar husband of Savita Halappanavar who died following a miscarriage in The Galway University Hospital. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Praveen Halappanavar, widower of the late Savita Halappanavar who died at Galway University Hospital in October 2012, hopes his case for medical negligence will be heard in the spring.

His solicitor, Gerry O’Donnell, said yesterday the case had been allocated a case number by the court services and he had requested an “early hearing”.

“That would be in the next term, the spring. The hospital has admitted liability and could endeavour to settle the case, or they could request that it be adjudicated by a judge.”

He said Mr Halappanavar, who works as an engineer for Boston Scientific and is living in the United States, planned to return for the case and would like it resolved "sooner rather than later."



Ms Halappanavar

died at the Galway hospital on October 28th, 2012 one week after presenting with severe back pain. She was 17 weeks’ pregnant and was told she would miscarry. She requested a termination of the pregnancy on a number of occasions but this was refused as there was a foetal heartbeat. Her condition deteriorated.

She spontaneously delivered a still-born girl after four days by which time she had developed severe sepsis. She died three days later in the intensive care unit.

Mr O'Donnell was speaking as the board of Saolta University Health Care Group, of which the hospital is a member, was preparing to discuss two reports on the hospital's progress in implementing recommendations arising from three inquiries established after Ms Halappanavar's death. Those inquiries were the HSE report chaired by Prof Arulkumaran, the coroner's inquest and the review by the Health, Information and Quality Authority.

A report by chartered accountants Ernst and Young on progress implementing the five Hiqa recommendations, was discussed as well as one by the Saolta group's clinical chairman, Dr Pat Nash, on progress on the other two reports' recommendations.

Significant progress

Dr Nash said “significant progress” had been made in addressing all the areas of concern arising from Ms Halappanavar’s death including the full implementation of an early warning score system across the hospital. He said there was a score system in every maternity patient’s chart. There was no such system in place in St Monica’s – the ward in which Ms Halappanavar was a patient in October 2012.

Of greatest significance, said Dr Nash, were changes made in the handover of patients at shift changes. “There is now a documented handover of patients, a documented handover of care, to the next person coming on the next shift, to ensure proper follow-up care.”

Inadequate communication about Ms Halappanavar’s deterioration between shifts was a key failing in her care, investigations found. Dr Nash also said there had been significant improvements in communicating abnormal or alarming blood results.

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland

Kitty Holland is Social Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times