Galway staff included in Savita probe

The HSE has announced the membership of the review group that will investigate the circumstances surrounding the maternal death of Savita Halappanavar.

Three of the team that will probe the incident are from the hospital where it took place - Galway University Hospital, and one of the three is a professor of obstetrics at the hospital and at NUI Galway.

Questions will inevitably be asked about the appropriateness of having three consultants on the inquiry team who work in the hospital where Ms Halappanavar's death took place, and that the review is effectively being coordinated by the HSE.

There have been calls for the establishment of an inquiry independent of the service providers - the HSE and the hospital - since the death was first reported last week.

Not withstanding the high calibre of members appointed to the inquiry, it will be suggested that an outside body such as the independent safety authority HIQA would provide a more appropriate means of carrying out the probe, as it has done with similar patient safety incidents in the past.

Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology, will chair the investigation team into the death.

The specific terms of reference for the inquiry have not yet been revealed by the HSE.

Dr Arulkumaran is Professor and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at St George's University of Londonand is President of the International Federation of Obstetrics & Gynaecology.

The HSE said the investigation team comprises a number of experts in areas including including anaesthesia, midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology, 'to review the full range of clinical care provided to Ms Halappanavar'. The team also includes an independent patient representative.

The investigation team met earlier today to review the terms of reference and agree their schedule for carrying out the investigation, which will be completed within 'an expeditious timeframe.'

The HSE said the review will seek 'to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, identify any casual or contributory factors, draw conclusions, and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent, insofar as it's possible, and reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring again.'

Galway University Hospital has committed to cooperating fully with the team to ensure that this investigation can be completed as quickly as possible, the HSE said.

The HSE's National Incident Management Team (NIMT) will oversee and support the investigation into the circumstances of Ms Halappanavar's death.

The members of the investigation team are:

Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran (Chair).
Cora McCaughan, HSE National Incident Management Team.
Ms Cathriona Molloy, Service User Advocate, Patient Focus.
Prof John Morrison, consultant in obstetrics and gynaecology, Galway University Hospital and head of the academic department at NUI Galway.
Ms Geraldine Keohane, Director of Midwifery, Cork University Hospital.
Dr Catherine Fleming, consultant in infectious diseases, Galway University Hospital.
Dr Brian Harte, consultant anaesthetist, Galway University Hospital.

Fianna Fail health spokesperson Billy Kelleher, while welcoming the appointment of Dr Arulklumaran to chair the inquiry, said the probe should be fully independent and not solely under the remit of the HSE.

The investigation team met earlier today to review the terms of reference and agree their schedule for carrying out the investigation, which will be completed within an expeditious timeframe, the HSE said.

The process of clinical incident review seeks to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, identify any casual or contributory factors, draw conclusions, and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent, insofar as it is possible, and reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring again.

Galway University Hospital has committed to cooperating fully with the team to ensure that this investigation can be completed as quickly as possible.

The investigation team has initiated contact with Mr Halappanavar's legal representatives and will engage with him as part of the investigation process, according to the HSE.

The final report of the investigation team will be provided to the HSE's National Director of Quality and Patient Safety, Dr Philip Crowley.

Speaking at the press conference announcing the investigation team, Dr Crowley expressed condolences on behalf of the HSE to Ms Halappanavar's family and friends for their tragic loss.

"We must now give the Investigation Team the time and support they require to conduct their inquiries before drawing any conclusions. We must also remember that Ireland's maternity services are of a very high standard and that as a country we have one of the lowest maternal death rates in the OECD."

What women want - a safer health service.

 

[Posted: Mon 19/11/2012]

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