Thursday 23 November 2017

Clearing of doctor in Savita death will have no effect on civil case

Savita Halappanavar
Savita Halappanavar

Caroline Crawford and Eilish O'Regan

THE decision of the Medical Council not to carry out a disciplinary inquiry into the obstetrician overseeing the care of Savita Halappanavar will have no effect on the go-ahead of the civil case being taken arising out of her death, it emerged yesterday.

Gerard O' Donnell, solicitor for her husband Praveeen Halappanavar, said he expected to case to go ahead within the next six months.

He was speaking after the Irish Independent revealed yesterday that the doctors' regulatory body, the Medical Council, had decided that Dr Katherine Astbury, the lead obstetrician overseeing the care of Ms Halappanavar at University Hospital Galway in October 2012, has no case to answer.

It followed an assessment of her management of the care by Scottish obstetrician Dr Jane Norman who told the preliminary proceedings committee of the Council that Dr Astbury did not meet the criteria for poor professional performance or professional misconduct.

Savita died on October 2012 a week after she was admitted to University Hospital Galway hospital at 17 weeks pregnant.

She died of septicaemia following a miscarriage. Two reports and an inquest found major failings in her care.

Praveen had made a statement to the Council following a complaint lodged by Fine Gael Galway city councillor Padraig Conneely.

"I haven't been notified of the decision by the Medical Council. Praveen wasn't the complainant but he made a statement as requested by the council after the complaint.

"I would have thought that they would have contacted us to let us know the outcome."

He said that the Medical council is a statutory body carrying out it's own investigation and it is entitled to come to its own conclusions. We are moving ahead with our case.

"I am currently awaiting dates that Praveen can return to Ireland for the case," he said. "I would like to think that it would take place in the next six months."

Councillor Conneely said he did not regret the complaint .

"They have let me know their decision. I don't regret making the complaint. This is a matter of public concern locally, nationally and internationally."

A spokesman for the Nursing and Midwifery Board which oversees the conduct of nurses confirmed complaints relating to the care of Savita were made but it is possible to say what stage they are at.


Meanwhile, Rotunda Hospital Master Sam Coulter-Smith warned nearly 2,000 women are waiting for a year at his outpatient clinics to see a gynaecologist and the fear is a cancer could be missed.

"We fast-track people at higher risk of cancer but occasionally you will get a situation where, according to their referral letter is deemed they are low risk but it turns out to be something unexpected."

Irish Independent

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