TIMELINE: This is the story of one woman’s death in an Irish hospital, based on the account given by her husband and friends

Savita Halappanavar was admitted to Galway University Hospital with back pain. She was 17 weeks pregnant. Seven days later she was dead. The hospital has said it cannot comment on individual cases and in relation to Ms Halappanavar, it must await the outcome of official investigations.

October 20th 

It’s a Saturday night, and Savita Halappanavar (31) and her husband Praveen (34) are holding a small get-together at their home in the Roscam area of Galway. It’s both a farewell dinner for her parents who are returning to India soon and an opportunity to announce to friends they are expecting a baby. Savita is 17 weeks pregnant. “Savita was very excited, very happy,” recalls Praveen. “All our close friends came to congratulate us.”

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THE eminent UK obstetrician chairing the inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar co-authored a report which called on countries with restrictive abortion laws to look at more liberal regimes.
 
 
A SERIES of events has plunged the HSE probe into the death of Savita Halappanavar further into shambles.

The agency was forced to ask three doctors from Galway University Hospital to step down from the inquiry, and it has now emerged the man leading the investi- gation previously helped to write a report advocating abortion.

At the same time, Savita’s husband, in an interview with the Irish Independent, confirmed that he has no intention of co-operating with the HSE investigation.
 
 
THE MINISTER FOR Health James Reilly has recognised the need for a transparent, independent inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar at Galway University Hospital – but added that the process needed to be expedited in order to ensure no further risk is posed to women being treated at the facility.

Responding to questions put to him at the Joint Committee on Health and Children this evening, Reilly said that ‘justice not only needed to be done, but needed to be seen to be done’.

“This is a very difficult and traumatic time for the family of Savita Halappanavar and I know that it’s going to be very difficult for them in relation to whole procedure,” he said.  However, he added that he had a “duty of care” to women across the country to expedite the process so that if any further risks at the hospital remain they can be addressed.

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Group to be made up of 'entirely independent' representatives

The Taoiseach says the 3 doctors from University Hospital Galway who were to sit on an inquiry into the death of Savita Halappanavar will not now do so. 

It comes after the husband of the 31-year-old declared he would not co-operate with the inquiry because of the inclusion of the doctors on the team. 

This afternoon Enda Kenny told the Dáil that Health Minister James Reilly had instructed the inquiry be made up of people with no association with the hospital. 

These were Prof. John J. Morrison, Dr. Catherine Fleming and Dr. Brian Harte.

All hold various posts at the hospital where Mrs. Halappanavar died last month.

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SAVITA Halappanavar's husband Praveen will try to block a HSE inquiry into her death by refusing to release her medical records.

Praveen Halappanavar, whose wife died after suffering a miscarriage and being refused an abortion, has called for an independent public inquiry into her death and says he has no faith in the HSE process.

Mr Halappanavar will not consent to have Savita's records examined by the investigation team, his lawyer said.

His solicitor Gerard O'Donnell announced the widower has no faith in the state's Health Service Executive (HSE), which appointed a team to review the case.

"I just don't know how the HSE will conduct an inquiry without his consent," said Mr O'Donnell.

"They will have to look at her records and we haven't given any consent to Savita's records being looked at."

However, it is understood the HSE inquiry will be able to review the records without Mr Halappanavar's permission.

Mr Halappanavar criticised the HSE probe, launched yesterday, because the team includes three employees of Galway University Hospital where his 31-year-old wife died on October 28.

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The Health Service Executive has appointed Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran as chairman of the investigative team that will review the death of Savita Halappanavar.

He was chosen as an independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology, and is internationally renowned in his field.
Sir Arulkumaran is professor and head of obstetrics and gynaecology and deputy head of clinical sciences at St George's University of London.

He is also the president of the International Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology - the global body dedicated to improving women and newborns' quality of life.

The internationally-respected professor has been in clinical practice for nearly 40 years and has also been involved in research and teaching for more than 25 years.

His main area of research involves foetal monitoring, intrapartum care, high-risk pregnancy, obstetric litigation and safety in maternity care.

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Medics involved in the care of a pregnant Indian woman who died after suffering a miscarriage will be interviewed over the next three days, health chiefs have revealed.

A seven-strong team, headed by professor of obstetrics and gynaecology Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, will examine case notes and medical guidelines to establish whether she received the best possible care.
Savita Halappanavar, 31, died on October 28 after contracting septicaemia. Her husband has claimed she was denied an abortion as she miscarried 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) said no overall timeframe has been set for the completion of a report, which will be sent to HSE national director of quality and patient safety Philip Crowley.

"We will obviously interview all the members of the local team who were involved in the care and clearly analyse every step of Mrs Halappanavar's care to ensure that we uncover the root causes of her untimely death," Dr Crowley said.

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THREE doctors from University Hospital Galway are part of the investigation team assembled to inquire into the death.

The chairman of the inquiry has defended their positions, saying they needed to inform the team about their standards of practice in treating patients at the hospital.

Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an eminent obstetrician of 40 years experience who practises at St George's hospital, University of London, was unveiled as chairman. [...]

Mr Arulkumaran said the main reason to have three Galway hospital doctors involved is not for them to give specific directions, but to inform the team about their standards of practice in treating patients.

He said this would include whether "they have standard guidelines in the hospital, and if they have deviations why do they do so".

For example the type of antibiotics given to patients can vary from hospital to hospital.


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