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Savita's abortion requests missing from medical file


AGENCIES | London, November 23, 2012 16:54
Tags : Savita Halappanavar | Ireland | abortion | catholic country | Praveen Halappanavar | |

Savita HalappanavarPraveen Halappanavar, husband of an Indian dentist who died due to pregnancy-related complications after being denied abortion in Ireland, says the medical notes made available to him do not contain their repeated pleas for a termination, but mention trivial requests for tea and toast.

“They have all the other information including requests for tea and toast and for an extra blanket, all of that is in the notes, but the important information about requesting the termination is not,” Praveen, whose 31-year-old wife Savita died on October 28 at Galway University Hospital, said.

The detailed medical records from the hospitals, which were made available to Praveen, do not include doctors’ notes for Monday, October 22 – the day the couple first requested a termination. While doctors’ notes are available for Tuesday, October 23, they make no reference to the requested termination which was reiterated on that date.

Praveen described how the missing information had destroyed his faith in the Irish Republic’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

“It’s time to get the facts and the truth for Savita,” he was quoted as saying by Belfast Telegraph.

“I don’t have any faith in the HSE. I saw (the files) earlier this week. It was a blow and that was the reason why we never wanted the HSE inquiry,” said Praveen, who has been demanding a full public probe.

It has also emerged that a number of clinical notes were added to the file after Savita’s death.

However, none of these refer to the termination request.

Tony O’Brien, head of the HSE, has asked the patient safety watchdog, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), to begin a separate investigation.

Meanwhile, Irish President Michael D Higgins, who earlier said the probe into Savita’s death must meet the needs of her family as also the State, defended his intervention in the row.

Higgins said he spoke out to express the great sadness felt in Ireland, but some felt he was sidestepping his obligation not to make political statements.

“I said it’s very important that the investigation be such as satisfies the genuine concern of the Irish people and that helps reduce the grief for Savita’s husband and her family.”

Savita, who was 17-week pregnant when she died, had miscarried and subsequently suffered septicaemia.

Her husband says that doctors refused to carry out an abortion because a foetal heartbeat was present. He says they were told Ireland “is a Catholic country.”

Irish Minister for Health James Reilly, meanwhile, said the likely announcement of a second State inquiry into the death of Savita is “an extra dimension, rather than a U-turn”.

The board of the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is expected to confirm shortly that it will undertake a statutory investigation into Savita’s death, following a request from the HSE.

It was unclear whether Praveen, who says he will have nothing to do with the HSE inquiry, will cooperate with the investigation to be conducted by the authority, which is the State’s health watchdog.

According to a report in The Irish Times, his solicitor Gerard O’Donnell last night said he was “not ruling out” participation in the HIQA inquiry.

However, it was key for his client that it “sits in public, is open and witnesses are called”.

The authority conducts its investigations in private and does not take statements under oath but is free to draw up its own terms of reference.

Meanwhile, in another interview to Irish Times, the president defended his statement in Savita’s case which has provoked political reaction both inside and outside the Irish Parliament.

Higgins said, “My quotation is exactly, you know, as it is in print. I am not responsible for the editorial uses of it. But it is very straight-forward, I said it was a very great tragedy.”

“I expressed my sympathy to her husband and her extended family and I was joining the thousands of Irish people in the streets saying the same thing.

“Then on the specific issue of where do we go from here, I said it is very important that investigation be such that it satisfies the genuine concern of the Irish people, that meets in some way – in some small way – in reducing the grief of Savita’s husband and her family and then that meets the needs of the State’s responsibilities.”

“It was no more, or no less than that. I know what the president does, the president expresses, as it were, what is a great moment of sadness among the Irish people, and I do hope that it achieves what I have just said, the decisions, the practical sense of decisions then for all those responsible.”

When asked about his opinion about the outcome of the probe, the President said, “No, that is not my business. I did say it should be aimed at ensuring the safety of the health of women and I think, surely, that is the greatest consideration.”

“I should say that when the first media inquiries came to me they were ones about did I think it had done to the image of Ireland.”

“To be frank, I am far more concerned about the correct response to the correct anxieties that the Irish public have and their anxiety as well that women’s health should be adequately provided for in the future.”

“These are the real concerns, I think it is up then to all those who take decisions in this area to try and meet, as I have said, the genuine concerns of the public as expressed, the deep grief of the family and also then the State as to how it discharges its responsibilities in such a way as tries to meet all of these.”

Responding to a question whether he extended the role of the president by his comments, Higgins said, “Not at all, I can assure you as a political scientist for nearly 40 years I am very well aware of not only the constitutional limits of president, but, also, what the people might correctly expect from their president.”

“Government has governance duties and it does it and I get on with my business.”

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017