Sunday 11 December 2016

Savita civil case against HSE settled out of court

Published 10/03/2016 | 02:30

Savita Halappanavar died in Galway University Hospital in 2012. Photo: Reuters
Savita Halappanavar died in Galway University Hospital in 2012. Photo: Reuters

A medical negligence case being taken by the widower of Savita Halappanavar has been settled out of court.

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The case, which was being taken by Praveen Halappanavar against the HSE and obstetrician Katherine Astbury, was due to begin today in the High Court.

It was expected to take two to three days to hear all the facts.

However, a source has told the Irish Independent the case was settled late last week.

While details of the agreement have not been made public it is understood the settlement is significant.

Mr Halappanavar has been living in the US for the past number of years while he carries out a mid-term project for his employers Boston Scientific. He was expected to return and give evidence in the case. However, it's understood he did not return home from the US for the talks last week.

A source said: "Praveen is relieved it is finally over."

Papers for the personal injury summons, lodged with the High Court in September 2013, stated that Ms Halappanavar's constitutional right to life was breached.

The civil suit included over 30 claims of alleged negligence in the case, including failures in the treatment given to Ms Halappanavar during her time at University Hospital Galway and a failure to terminate the pregnancy when it became clear that Ms Halappanavar's life was at risk.

Ms Halappanavar (31) was 17 weeks' pregnant and miscarrying when she was admitted to University Hospital Galway on October 21, 2012. She died seven days later on October 28 as a result of septicaemia caused by E coli ESBL.

Her husband Praveen consistently claimed she had asked on several occasions for a termination but was refused. His claims were later borne out by the inquest into her death.

Three separate investigations were carried out into the young woman's death.

An inquest returned a verdict of medical misadventure making nine recommendations including that the Medical Council lay out exactly when a doctor can intervene to save the life of a mother in similar circumstances.

A HSE clinical review into her treatment found there had been inadequate assessment and monitoring of the patient.

It added there had been "a lack of recognition of the gravity of the situation and the increasing risk to the life of the mother" among staff at the Galway hospital.

A Hiqa report into Ms Halappanavar's death identified 13 "missed opportunities" which, if acted upon, "may potentially have resulted in a different outcome for her".

In total 33 recommendations were made in three separate reviews into Ms Halappanavar's death by the HSE, the Health Information and Quality Authority and the inquest into Ms Halappanavar's death.

The HSE promised to fully implement all the recommendations included in the review into her death. Following the investigations into her death, the hospital group ordered a review of the actions of all staff members involved in her care.

The independent review was compiled by Ernst and Young for the Saolta Group, which runs Galway University Hospital.

A total of 30 staff were involved in Ms Halappanavar's care and it found 21 had no case to answer. The other nine staff received either written warnings or were given more training.

None were suspended or dismissed and the disciplinary process is now deemed to be concluded. A number of staff involved in the care of Ms Halappanavar remained on sick leave two years after her death.

The settlement brings to a close the legal proceedings against hospital staff and management following the death of Ms Halappanavar.

Irish Independent

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