What happened to Savita?

The case of Savita Halappanaver is an extremely tragic one.

What we know for certain is that Savita was having a miscarriage when she was admitted to Galway University Hospital in October 2012.

Three independent investigations by the coroner, The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the HSE found she died as a result of sepsis (blood poisoning) which progressed to severe sepsis and eventually septic shock which caused her death (p20, HIQA report).

The investigations found her condition went untreated by hospital staff for too long. Their delayed response and inadequate assessment and monitoring meant that by the time they realised how ill she was it was too late.

The medical staff did intervene to deliver her baby when they realised the severity of the sepsis, but this intervention was too late.

Doctors agreed Savita was to be administered Misoprostol, a drug used in abortions, to induce the delivery of her baby. This was noted on her medical chart but never happened because she suffered a miscarriage and delivered her baby before they could administer the drug (p45, HSE report).

Campaigners for abortion framed the story as though her death was caused by the absence of a legal abortion. When she died she instantly became the face of the pro-choice movement, without ever giving her consent or publicly expressing her views on abortion.

In March 2016 Savita’s husband, Praveen Halappanavar, took legal action against the Health Service Executive in the High Court for medical negligence after his wife’s death. The case has now been settled out of court. If she died because she couldn’t have an abortion in Ireland he would have sued the State, not the HSE.

The HIQA report can be read in full here.

A detailed sequence of events from the time Savita was admitted to Galway University Hospital can be read here.