Wife's death medical misadventure

Savita Halappanavar died after she was refused a termination. Photo / AP
Savita Halappanavar died after she was refused a termination. Photo / AP

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

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 concluded Halappanavar's death was specifically due to sepsis, E.coli and miscarriage. The jury had heard evidence from Dr Peter Boylan, one of Ireland's leading obstetricians, that it was highly likely the woman would still be alive had she been given a termination when she and her husband had requested one.

The previously fit and healthy 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, Praveen 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."

At the conclusion of proceedings, coroner Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin told Halappanavar: "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."

-The Independent

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