Settlement Agreed in Savita Halappanavar Medical Negligence Claim

An undisclosed six-figure settlement of compensation has been agreed in the high-profile Savita Halappanavar medical negligence claim in Ireland.

Savita Halappanavar died on October 28th 2012 at the Galway University Hospital – one week after attending the hospital´s Accident and Emergency department complaining of back pain. Savita (31) was seventeen weeks pregnant with her first child at the time, but doctors failed to consider she was suffering contractions prior to a miscarriage and sent her home.

Savita returned to the hospital later that day and was admitted following a correct diagnosis of her condition. Blood tests were taken that indicated she was about to lose her baby but, despite repeated requests, Savita was denied a termination due to the presence of a foetal heartbeat. Savita subsequently developed septicaemia due to E.coli ESBL – a strain highly resistant to antibiotics.

By Wednesday October 24th, Savita´s condition had deteriorated significantly. She was prescribed stronger anti-biotics and the decision was made to abort the pregnancy to save the mother as allowed by Irish law. Prior to surgery, it was found that the foetus´ heart had stopped beating and, during the operation to remove the foetus, Savita spontaneously delivered her dead child.

Savita suffered septic shock and was transferred to the hospital´s intensive care unit. Over the next few days she became critically ill as her organs started to fail and, on Sunday October 28th 2012, Savita suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

Savita´s husband – Praveen – made a claim against Ireland´s Health Service Executive for the death of his wife due to medical negligence. Ireland´s abortion laws forbid terminating a pregnancy unless the mother´s life is at risk. Praveen alleged that doctors at Galway University Hospital should have realised sooner that Savita´s life was at risk, and conducted the termination when it was originally requested.

Due to the complex nature of Ireland´s abortion laws, the Savita Halappanavar medical negligence claim attracted worldwide interest. Two investigations into the circumstances surrounding Savita´s death both found significant failings in the care provided by the hospital and, in April 2013, the inquest into Savita´s death returned a verdict of death by medical misadventure.

The date of March 10th 2016 was set for a High Court hearing into the Savita Halappanavar medical negligence claim, but the day before the hearing was scheduled to commence, the news broke that the claim had been resolved for an undisclosed six-figure settlement of compensation. It was also reported that both the Health Service Executive and Galway University Hospital had apologised for the failings in Savita´s care.