I need Galway doctors on team – inquiry chairman
THREE doctors from University Hospital Galway are part of the investigation team assembled to inquire into the death.
The chairman of the inquiry has defended their positions, saying they needed to inform the team about their standards of practice in treating patients at the hospital.
Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an eminent obstetrician of 40 years experience who practises at St George's hospital, University of London, was unveiled as chairman.
The seven-member team also includes Galway consultants – anaesthetist Dr Brian Harte, infectious disease consultant Dr Catherine Fleming, and obstetrician Prof John Morrison.
Mrs Halappanavar died from septicaemia on October 28 following a miscarriage at the Galway hospital.
Mr Arulkumaran said the main reason to have three Galway hospital doctors involved is not for them to give specific directions, but to inform the team about their standards of practice in treating patients.
He said this would include whether "they have standard guidelines in the hospital, and if they have deviations why do they do so".
For example the type of antibiotics given to patients can vary from hospital to hospital.
The team will look at the antibiotics used in Galway and how doctors manage a patient who has septicaemia.
The other members are Cora McCaughan of the HSE National Incident Management Team, Cathriona Molloy, of the support group Patient Focus, and Geraldine Keohane, Director of Midwifery at Director of Cork University Hospital.
Mr Arulkumaran said they will start a three-day outline of the investigation this morning. They will be investigating all the factors that may have influenced the death.
He previously headed a major probe into the Northwick Park hospital in Harrow in England, where there were 10 maternal deaths.
He promised a "thorough investigation" and said that they will begin interviewing people, looking at case notes and the hospital's guidelines.
After that, they will do an overall analysis and ask further questions where they are needed. Mrs Halappanavar's husband Praveen has been invited to give evidence to the inquiry.