A new report on the death of Savita Halappanavar—the Indian woman whose death last year at 17 weeks pregnant sparked a debate over Ireland’s abortion laws—states that there was a “general lack of provision of basic, fundamental care” as she was treated at University Hospital Galway.
Halappanavar’s husband claimed that doctors refused to terminate his wife’s pregnancy after she was hospitalized with severe pain, allegedly telling the couple, “This is a Catholic country.” After several days in the hospital, Halappanavar miscarried, and shortly after died of sepsis. Activists pointed to Halappanavar’s death in calling for changes to Ireland’s abortion laws, claiming that she would have survived had she been given the abortion for which she asked. In July, Irish President Michael Higgins signed into law a bill allowing abortion in Ireland under certain conditions, including when the mother’s life is at risk.
The Irish Independent has a story on the report released today on Halappanavar’s death:
Watchdog the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) said that doctors failed to recognise that [Halappanavar] was suffering from an infection and failed to act on signs that she was deteriorating.
Director of regulation Phelim Quinn said there were a series of missed opportunities in Mrs Halappanavar’s care in University Hospital Galway.
“The investigation also identified a number of missed opportunities to intervene in her care which, if they had been acted upon, may have resulted in a different outcome for Savita Halappanavar,” he said.
“Effective care and treatment depends on the regular monitoring and recording of a patient’s clinical observations and recognising their significance, acting appropriately on the findings, escalating concerns and the seamless clinical handover of information relating to each patient within and between clinicians and clinical teams.”
Key findings of the HIQA report included:
*General lack of provision of basic, fundamental care, for example, not following up on blood tests as identified in Mrs Halappanavar’s case.
*Failure to recognise that Mrs Halappanavar was at risk of clinical deterioration.
*Failure to act or escalate concerns to an appropriately qualified clinician when Mrs Halappanavar was showing signs of clinical deterioration.