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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

World

Savita's abortion requests missing from medical file
PTI
London, November 23, 2012
First Published: 16:28 IST(23/11/2012)
Last Updated: 18:33 IST(23/11/2012)

Praveen 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 hospital, 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.

Reilly welcomed the involvement of HIQA, saying it would provide "even greater ventilation" of the issues at stake in Savita's death, his spokesman said.

Asked why the Minister had not used his powers under the 2007 Health Act to order HIQA to investigate the matter in the first place, he said the HSE was following a protocol, which requires it to get clarity about the facts involved and ensure that a safe service was being provided for patients.

"I wouldn't see it as a U-turn. At all stages, the first thing the Minister wanted was absolute clarity about this death," the spokesman said.

Reilly is due to meet staff from Galway University Hospital.

A special board meeting of HIQA was held yesterday and is set to reconvene. A spokesman would only say the board was considering the request received from the HSE.

O'Brien said they were pursuing their own inquiry - now termed a "clinical review" - despite Praveen's refusal to participate.

He said even if Savita's family did not cooperate, the review "must be brought to a conclusion". There was "no way" the inquiry could be stopped as it would be "criminally negligent" not to proceed.

He accepted the HSE had not been "as aware as it should have been" of the wider context and focused on the "clinical aspects" in its inquiry.


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