"Doctors focussed too much on Savita’s foetus"

Appropriate attention could have saved her: draft report

April 02, 2013 08:47 pm | Updated December 04, 2021 11:14 pm IST - LONDON:

This handout picture received from the Irish Times on November 14, 2012 shows Indian national Savita Halappanavar who died after being refused a termination of her pregnancy at a hospital in Galway.   Irish authorities on November 14, 2012 investigated the death of a woman who was refused a termination after doctors told her it was a Catholic country, in a case that has revived debate about abortion laws. Prime Minister Enda Kenny told lawmakers he was awaiting the results of two reviews of the death of Savita Halappanavar, who is originally from India, at University Hospital Galway in western Ireland. a 31 year old woman from India who was 17 weeks pregnant at Galway University Hospiital last month. She presented with back pain on October 21st was found to be miscarrying and died a week later of septicemia. Photo not to be distributed to any other media and supplied on the basis of the following mandatory  credit to accompany all usage :   “ RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT  " AFP PHOTO / PHOTO COURTESY : THE IRISH TIMES"  -  NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS   -   DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS †AFP PHOTO - NO ARCHIVES

This handout picture received from the Irish Times on November 14, 2012 shows Indian national Savita Halappanavar who died after being refused a termination of her pregnancy at a hospital in Galway. Irish authorities on November 14, 2012 investigated the death of a woman who was refused a termination after doctors told her it was a Catholic country, in a case that has revived debate about abortion laws. Prime Minister Enda Kenny told lawmakers he was awaiting the results of two reviews of the death of Savita Halappanavar, who is originally from India, at University Hospital Galway in western Ireland. a 31 year old woman from India who was 17 weeks pregnant at Galway University Hospiital last month. She presented with back pain on October 21st was found to be miscarrying and died a week later of septicemia. Photo not to be distributed to any other media and supplied on the basis of the following mandatory credit to accompany all usage : “ RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT " AFP PHOTO / PHOTO COURTESY : THE IRISH TIMES" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS †AFP PHOTO - NO ARCHIVES

Dentist Savita Halappanavar, who died in an Irish hospital last year after being refused abortion, may have been saved had doctors paid “appropriate” attention to her deteriorating condition instead of focusing all efforts on saving the foetus, according to the draft report of an inquiry into her death.

“The investigating team considers there was an apparent overemphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heart stopped, together with an under-emphasis on the need to focus an appropriate attention on monitoring for and managing the risk of infection and sepsis in the mother,” the inquiry said.

A report in The Irish Times said the inquiry found that Savita’s “vital signs were inadequately monitored’’ and that though she was “seriously ill… this was not acted on’’. By the time, doctors saw her “she had further deteriorated, and still this was not acted on adequately.’’

Savita’s husband Praveen Halappanavar said he was not satisfied with the report because it did not answer the question why she was refused abortion even when her life seemed in danger — and despite repeated requests.

‘Why was plea ignored?’

“No, he is not satisfied because it doesn’t answer the question why was the request for the termination not acceded to even when she became ill and her life was in danger, why wasn’t it acted upon then,” his solicitor Gerard O’Donnell told a newspaper.

Savita (31) was 17 weeks pregnant when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital on October 21 with severe back pain. She was found to be miscarrying but according to her husband, doctors refused to abort citing Ireland’s strict anti-abortion law. A week later she died of septicaemia and E.coli.

Her death caused widespread outrage in India and Ireland triggering protests against the country’s virtual ban on abortion. The law has since been reviewed and the government has promised to bring in legislation to make abortion legal in certain circumstances.

Mr. O’Donnell said his client believed that Savita died because she was refused abortion.

“He does have a sense why — that when the request for a termination was made she was told, ‘This is a Catholic country and this is the law’. He feels there could have been and should have been a termination and that’s what they were told. Of course that doesn’t come out in the report,” he added.

An inquest into Savita’s death will resume next week. It opened last year but was adjourned.

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