Husband of late Malak 'stunned' by Harris move
The widower of Malak Thawley, who died during surgery at the National Maternity Hospital last year, is "stunned, dismayed and extremely aggrieved" at Health Minister Simon Harris's decision not to appoint an external expert team to investigate his wife's death.
Alan Thawley has rejected a proposal by Mr Harris to have the statutory inquiry into the death carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa), the State patient safety watchdog.
In strongly worded correspondence, Mr Thawley's solicitor Caoimhe Haughey said her client was considering legal action if the external inquiry was not agreed to "as promised".
It is understood that the National Maternity Hospital has also strongly objected to the decision to put the inquiry on a statutory basis, which would require sworn evidence.
It described this kind of inquiry as "unexpected and unjustified".
Ms Thawley, who was about to undergo a low-risk operation for ectopic pregnancy on Sunday, May 8, last year, died after one of her main blood vessels was accidentally injured.
An inquest has found that her death was due to medical misadventure.
In the letter to Mr Harris, the solicitor for the widower, who asked for the inquiry last summer at a meeting with the minister, said he had a list of external medical experts who could conduct the probe.
"He has provided you with the names of gynaecological, vascular and anaesthetic clinicians from the UK who are ready and willing to provide their expert services.
"All of this considerable dedication and collaboration on Mr Thawley's part has been side-lined and ostensibly rebuffed by virtue of the decision you have taken," the correspondence to the minister claimed.
He accused the minister of rejecting the commitment made recently that all maternal deaths would be reviewed by a panel external to the maternity hospital where they happened.
In his letter to Mr Thawley, the minister said he believed there were "reasonable grounds" for him to ask Hiqa to undertake an investigation into the safety, quality and standards involved in the care of Ms Thawley at the hospital.
"In this regard there are particular patient safety issues to be addressed such as the practice of surgery outside of core hours in maternity services and beyond, the seniority of staff out of hours and the readiness of hospitals to respond to major emergencies in such circumstances," he said.
Ms Thawley, who was seven weeks pregnant, was living in Blackrock with her American husband while he was working in Dublin.
Questions were raised at the inquest about how soon the accident was identified and treated.