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Savita Halappanavar’s Husband Announces Medical Negligence Claim Against HSE

The husband of Savita Halappanavar – who died at the University Hospital Galway last October after being denied an abortion – has announced that he is making an HSE hospital negligence claim for compensation.

In October, Savita Halappanavar (31) had attended the Galway hospital on the morning after complaining of a severe back pain. She was found to be miscarrying her 17 week-old foetus. In spite of her condition, she was sent home by hospital staff. Still experiencing excruciating pain, Savita returned later in the day and was admitted overnight.

The following morning, Savita´s consultant doctor – Dr Katherine Astbury – was advised that Savita´s waters had broken and said that she would have to “await events”. Savita waited until the following day before requesting a termination, but was told by the midwife manager that it was not possible while the foetal heartbeat was still present due to restrictive abortion laws in Ireland.

Savita´s condition continued to rapidly deteriorate. Dr Astbury misdiagnosed her with sepsis after, as the consultant had failed to read the patient notes made the previous evening. Dr Astbury admitted at the inquest into Savita´s death that, at that point, she had consulted with a senior colleague about a termination. A later scan revealed that Savita´s baby was already dead.

Savita was moved to intensive care, where it was discovered that she had developed septicaemia due to E.coli ESBL. She became critically ill and, on Sunday October 28th, she died of multiple organ failure due to severe septicaemia.

An inquest into Savita´s death delivered a verdict of medical misadventure and a Health Service Executive investigation was carried out to identify where the failings occurred that lead to Savita´s death. However, despite discovering a catalogue of negligence, the investigation failed to establish who was at fault, and the HSE declined to admit liability for Savita´s wrongful death.

Savita´s distraught family described the HSE´s report as a “whitewash”, and the case gained much media attention. Savita’s widower-Praveen Halappanavar-has now announced he is making an HSE hospital negligence claim for compensation on the grounds that the University Hospital Galway failed to follow up blood tests, failed to diagnose and failed to treat.

Whether Praveen´s HSE hospital negligence claim goes to court will depend on whether the hospital or HSE acknowledge their liability before a court date is arranged

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