Inquest into Savita Halapannavar's death in Galway

Tuesday 09 April 2013 09.41
Savita Halappanavar died in hospital in Galway in October (Pic: The Irish Times)
Savita Halappanavar died in hospital in Galway in October (Pic: The Irish Times)

RTÉ's Health Correspondent Fergal Bowers @FergalBowers looks ahead to the inquest into Savita Halappanavar's death.

If things had gone differently for Savita and Praveen Halappanavar, the couple would have been celebrating the birth of their first baby around Good Friday.

But tragically it was not to be.

Indeed, it was on Good Friday that Mr Halappanavar received the draft HSE review into his wife's death.

It was a difficult document to read suggesting that there was an overemphasis on the foetus and not on Ms Halappanavar's health.

That weekend Mr Halappanavar visited his wife's grave to pray.

The week ahead will also be very difficult for Mr Halappanavar with the full inquest under way in Galway Courthouse.

The inquest before coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin is an inquiry into who, why, what, where and when in relation to her death.

It cannot attribute blame but the coroner can make general recommendations designed to prevent similar events.

The coroner decided a jury was necessary under the Coroner's Act.

The inquest will last all week and could go into some days of next week. If it does not conclude then, some days in May will be set aside.

This case is about a great personal tragedy for Praveen Halappanavar and his late wife, who was 17 weeks pregnant.

The key questions are whether her infection was managed well and in good time and how exactly did doctors deal with the requests for a termination of pregnancy.

We know the termination request that doctors discussed was not recorded in the medical notes - why not?

A large media presence is here for this inquest, including TV crews from other countries. The case is not just of interest to Irish people but many people around the world too. It will expose care at Galway University Hospital and our health system to intense scrutiny.

We will also hear from five expert witnesses for the coroner.

The consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in charge of her care will also give evidence in public under oath and be cross examined for the first time. So it will also be a difficult time for the hospital and the many staff that cared for Ms Halappanavar.

The draft HSE review into her death has still not been published. It may be that evidence before the inquest might feed into the final report to give a fuller picture.

When this inquest is over, we should have a better picture as to what happened.

Fergal Bowers will be reporting for RTÉ News from Galway. Follow him on Twitter @FergalBowers