European & International News

13 missed opportunities for intervention that may have saved Savita’slife

(Brussels 10 October) The Irish Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published a report into the death of Savita Halappanavar in which it found significant deficiencies in the care of critically ill women in the State’s 19 maternity hospitals. The report also identified 13 separate incidences where alternative intervention may have saved the young woman’s life.

The story, previously detailed on this website, led to a national and international debate and examination of Ireland’s legislation regarding abortion and termination of pregnancies. The often repeated statement that was frequently used by the opponents of legislation was that ’Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to give birth, for mothers and children’. Savita Halappanavar died on Sunday 28 October 2012 at 01:09hrs, seven days after her admission to University Hospital Galway (UHG), where she was treated on St Monica’s Ward, a gynaecology ward within the Women’s and Children’s Directorate of the Hospital. She was a 31-year-old woman who was 17 weeks pregnant and in her first pregnancy. While the Report is not a specific investigation into Savita Halappanavar’s case,
her death was the seminal event that led to concerns regarding potential serious
risks to the standards of some services provided within the Hospital and the need
to seek assurances that such risks were not replicated in other similar services in

The Patient Safety Investigation report into services at University Hospital Galway (UHG) and as reflected in the care provided to Savita Halappanavar Report is accessible for download at the following link.

It concluded that the ’findings of this investigation reflect a failure in the provision of the most basic elements of patient care to Savita Halappanavar and also the failure to recognise and act upon signs of her clinical deterioration in a timely and appropriate manner.

The Authority identified, through a review of Savita Halappanavar’s healthcare
record, a number of missed opportunities which, had they been identified and
acted upon, may have potentially changed the outcome of her care.’

The report concludes with 6 pages of recommendations to improve the basic standard of care provided to women and children.

The furore that surrounded Savita’s spurred the government to act to legislate for the X-case and enact the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.

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