Medical misadventure: verdict on Savita Halappanavar’s tragic abortion death

Today would have been her wedding anniversary

Ireland Correspondent

On what should have been his fifth wedding anniversary today, Praveen Halappanavar was instead at a coroner’s court, hearing a jury deliver a verdict of misadventure in the death of his wife, who was told by an Irish hospital that she could not have a termination “because Ireland is a Catholic country”.

Mr Halappanavar, whose wife Savita died in Galway last October, afterwards launched a scathing attack on the hospital, declaring: “It’s horrendous, barbaric and inhumane the way Savita was treated”.

The inquest yesterday concluded Mrs Halabbanavar’s death was specifically due to sepsis, e-coli and miscarriage.

The jury had heard evidence from Dr Peter Boylan, one of the country’s leading obstetricians, that it was highly likely Mrs Halappanavar would still be alive had she been given a termination when she and her husband had requested one.

The previously fit and healthy Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she died.

A spokesman for the hospital acknowledged there had been lapses in the standard of care provided, saying deficiencies would be rectified and all the recommendations taken on board.

The jury made a series of nine recommendations, the central one of which was a call for clarity on when doctors can intervene to save the life of an expectant mother “to remove doubt and fear from the doctor and reassure the public”.

Speaking after the verdict Mr Halappanavar, who had lived with his wife in Ireland for a number of years, said: “Medicine is all about preventing the natural history of the disease and improving the patient’s life and health and look what they did. She was just left there to die.

“We were always kept in the dark. If Savita would have known her life was at risk she would have jumped off the bed, straight to a different hospital. But we were never told.”

The verdict of the inquest, which heard much harrowing evidence, will generate renewed impetus for the already strong surge of public opinion in favour of a far-reaching overhaul of Ireland’s abortion law.

Successive governments have been heavily criticised for dodging the issue of clarifying the law. The case has triggered a bout of national soul-searching with the government promising to rush through fresh legislation and new regulations.

At the conclusion of proceedings coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin told Mr Hapappanavar: “Praveen, I want to offer you my sincerest and deepest condolences on the death of Savita. You showed tremendous loyalty in the love to her during her last week.

“The whole of Ireland has followed your story and I want, on their behalf, to offer our deepest sympathy. You will also be watched over and protected by the shadow of Savita who was in our thoughts during this painful and difficult journey.”

The jury's recommendations were:

* The Medical Council should say exactly when a doctor can intervene to save the life of a mother, which will remove doubt or fear from the doctor and also reassure the public;

* Blood samples are properly followed up;

* Protocol in the management of sepsis and guidelines introduced for all medical personal;

* Proper communication between staff with dedicated handover set aside on change of shift;

* Protocol for dealing with sepsis to be written by microbiology departments;

* Modified early warning score charts to be adopted by all staff;

* Early and effective communication with patients and their relatives when they are being cared for in hospital to ensure treatment plan is understood;

* Medical notes and nursing notes to be kept separately;

* No additions or amendments to be made to the medical notes of the dead person who is the subject of an inquiry.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star