THE DOCTOR who treated Savita Halappanavar at a Galway hospital has been named as a co-defendant in an action being taken by her husband Praveen for negligence.
Dr Katherine Astbury and the HSE are being sued by Mr Halappanavar following the death of his wife Savita at University Hospital Galway on October 28 last.
In papers lodged with the High Court this week, the personal injury summons states that Ms Halappanavar's constitutional right to life was breached.
It goes on to lay out over 30 issues of alleged negligence which it claims led to her death. These include a failure to monitor and properly treat the young dentist and a failure to terminate the pregnancy when it became clear that Ms Halappanavar's life was at risk.
"It is a personal injury summons seeking compensation for the loss suffered by Praveen on the death of his wife Savita. She had a constitutional right to life and that constitutional right was breached," said solicitor for Mr Halappanavar Gerard O'Donnell.
"The papers cover in excess of 30 particulars of neglect separate from the constitutional breach," he added.
The papers were separately served on lawyers for the HSE West on Friday afternoon.
Mr O'Donnell said the decision to name Dr Katherine Astbury as a co-defendant in the case was taken because the HSE Clinical Indemnity Scheme does not name individual doctors.
"The matter is now with them and it all depends on the attitude of the defendant. Because the HSE Clinical Indemnity Scheme does not name individual doctors we took the view that it was important to do so in case any matters arise in the future," he added.
Mr Halappanavar was informed that the papers had been officially filed earlier today.
"He's still very upset about everything. It is coming up to the first anniversary and that is very hard for him but he is happy that we are moving forward," explained Mr O'Donnell.
Dr Katherine Astbury was Savita's obstetrician at University Hospital Galway. She disputed claims made by Praveen Halappanavar during the inquest regarding the number of times his wife asked for a termination of the unviable pregnancy.
It also emerged at the inquest that on the morning of October 24, three days after Savita was admitted to hospital, Dr Astbury had not read the patient's notes, relying on her registrar to do so. She told the coroner she had not been told of a change in Savita's condition which pointed to chorioamnionitis, an inflammation of the foetal membranes - despite the fact that this had been included in the notes.
Had she been aware of the change she told the inquest she would have acted immediately to terminate the foetus and treat the source of the infection.
Later that day, following the eventual death of the foetus, Savita was moved to the high-dependency unit and later intensive care suffering from septicaemia caused by ecoli ESBL. She died on Sunday, October 28.
In April, an inquest into the 31-year-old's death returned a verdict of medical misadventure.
A HSE clinic review into her treatment was published in June, it 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. The HSE has promised to fully implement all the recommendations included in the review into her death.
A HIQA report into her treatment is expected to be completed shortly.
- Caroline Crawford