Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Miscarriage death 'horrendous'

Praveen Halappanavar has found it too distressing to hear details of his wife's post-mortem examination, his solicitor said

The widower of an Indian dentist who died after being refused a termination in an Irish hospital as she miscarried has said his wife's treatment was "horrendous, barbaric and inhuman".

After an inquest jury ruled unanimously that Savita Halappanavar's death was by medical misadventure, her husband Praveen said his wife had been left to die.

Mrs Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when admitted to University Hospital Galway on October 21 with an inevitable miscarriage. She died from multiple organ failure from septic shock and E.coli a week later, four days after she delivered a dead foetus.

Following the verdict, Mr Halappanavar said his wife did not benefit in any way from going to the hospital until the Wednesday afternoon, when she was transferred to high dependency and on to intensive care. "It was too late," he said, after the eight-day hearing.

The couple should have been celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary on Friday. Instead, Mr Halappanavar said he is considering further action through the European courts as he believes his wife's right to life was breached.

"The care she received was in no way different to staying at home," he 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. It's horrendous, barbaric and inhuman the way Savita was treated in that hospital."

The misadventure verdict found there were systemic failures or deficiencies in Mrs Halappanavar's care before she died, but coroner Ciaran MacLoughlin said they did not contribute to her death.

Tony Cavanan, head of the Health Service Executive's Galway-Roscommon Hospital Group, admitted mistakes were made. "Sadly there were lapses in the standard of care," he said.

James Reilly, Health Minister, said it was his intention to learn from the inquest, the watchdog inquiry and a clinical review. He also said he had no problem apologising to Mr Halappanavar.

The coroner told the widower the whole of Ireland sympathised with him. Dr MacLoughlin said: "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."

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