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Praveen faces ‘very tough’ final day of Savita’s inquest on their wedding anniversary

THE husband of Savita Halappanavar said the final day of the inquest into her death today - on their fifth wedding anniversary - would be ‘very tough’ but said he had been very satisfied with seven-day proceedings.

Praveen Halappanavar was speaking as he arrived at County Hall in Galway for the final day of the hearing before Coroner Ciaran McLoughlin and a jury of six men and four women.

“It is going to be very tough because this is our wedding anniversary so it is even more hard,” said Praveen.

“I just hope something good comes of this. I am pretty optimistic.

“I’ve always had this question in my head – why did Savita die?”

Asked if he thought he would get that question answered by the jury today, he said: “Hopefully yes. It has been very positive.

“The week has been very tough.”

He said he had been in constant contact with Savita’s parents “morning and evening.”

“They are waiting for the word.”

Mr Halappanavar praised the coroner saying he had been ‘kind enough’ to ask all the questions.

“It was more than we expected,” he added.

Ms Halappanavar died on Sunday, October 28,  last year, a week after being admitted to Galway University Hospital with back pains. She was 17 weeks pregnant.

Experts have told the seven day inquest that Ms Halappanavar died from sepsis – or blood poisoning – caused by an E Coli infection. Coroner Dr McLoughlin is expected to address the jury in the next half hour

The Coroner began heading the case at 10.12am.

Barrister for Praveen Eugene Gleeson asked for the jury to be excluded while he made a legal submission.

The jury has now been sent out.

After legal submissions without the jury, Dr McLoughlin began summing up the case at 10.50am.

He set out the details given in evidence by medical staff and expert witnesses, detailing Savita's care at the Galway hospital for admission on Sunday October 21 until her death in the early hours of the following Sunday.

He detailed the rapid deterioration in Savita's condition in the early hours of Wednesday October 24.

Dr McLoughlin told the jury that the midwife on duty on that morning "has been issued with a medical certificate saying she is unable to appear at this inquest or give evidence."

As the Coroner told of Savita's death four days later, his voice quivered with emotion.

He told the jury they could return a narrative verdict that could include that Savita had been admitted to hospital, had suffered from sepsis.

"You can also return a verdict of medical misadventure with no inference of civil or criminal liability if you find there were systematic failures in the care of Savita," said Dr McLoughlin.

The coroner referred to evidence given by consultant Dr Astbury and expert witness Dr Peter Boylan He said Dr Astbury has said there had been systematic failures in Savita's care in that vital signs had not been checked every four hours.

He said that Dr Boylan had referred to deficienies in medical care.

"It is not for the court to recommend a change of the law but the Oireachtas may take countenance of these procedures," he told the jury Dr McLoughlin also gave the jury nine possible recommendations which they may make.

They are:

1. A recommendation that the Medical Council will change guidelines on treatment of cases likes this which will removed doubt and fear from medical staff and give reassurance to patients and their relatives.

2. A national guideline that all blood samples taken in the care of patients are properly followed up.

3. A national guideline ordering the proper training and guidelines for the treatment of sepsis.

4. Proper communication between staff - with time set aside for staff to meet at handover times.

5. Protocols for dealing with sepsis written by microbiology department at each hospital nationally

6. Modified early warning charts be adopted by all staff.

7. Early and effective communication with patients and their relatives when they are being cared for in hospital

8. Nursing and medical notes should be kept separate.

9. No additions are made to a medical record of a deceased where the death is the subject of a coroner's inquiry.

The jury was sent out at 11.05am, and has since been sent for lunch.

Coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin called the jury of six men and five women back to the hearing room at County Hall in Galway at 12.48pm.

They have been deliberating for one hour and 43 minutes over the two options before them - a verdict of death by medical misadventure of a narrative verdict.

Dr MacLoughlin asked the jury foreman that he would send them for lunch unless they were close to reaching a verdict.

The foreman said they were. But this was interrupted by several other jury members who disagreed.

Dr MacLoughlin has now sent the jury for lunch, asking them to return at 2.10pm.

Online Editors