herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Consultant in charge of tragic Savita's care has 'no case to answer'

Savita Hallapanavar.
Savita Hallapanavar.

THE doctor that oversaw the care of tragic Savita Halappanavar will not be the subject of a fitness to practice inquiry.

The Medical Council has decided that University Hospital Galway consultant Dr Katherine Astbury has no case to answer.

Dr Astbury was the subject of a complaint to the doctors' regulatory body following an inquest into the death of Ms Halappanavar and an investigation by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Ms Halappanavar's death in October 2012 made worldwide headlines and re-ignited the abortion debate in Ireland. She was admitted to Galway hospital at 17 weeks pregnant and died a week later from septicaemia following a miscarriage.

The Medical Council, which assessed the complaint, hired a UK consultant to provide an opinion on her care.

The Council has now decided there is no "prima facie evidence of professional misconduct or poor professional performance on the part of Ms Katherine Astbury".

A complaint to the Council had been made by Fine Gael Councillor and former chairman of the HSE West Regional Forum Padraig Conneely.

Asked to comment last night, Cllr Conneely confirmed he had lodged the complaint but declined to make a further comment.

"I did so after two independent reports into the tragic case of Ms Halappanavar and the inquest," he said.

It is understood that the Medical Council appointed a case officer to oversee the complaint and prepared a report for the preliminary proceedings committee.

It hired an independent expert, Dr Jane Norman, Prof of Maternal and Fetal Health at the University of Edinburgh and an obstetrician at the Royal Infirmary, to examine Dr Astbury's management of the case.

OPtions

She concluded the management was "appropriate in terms of clinical decision making and treatment options. She involved colleagues from other specialties appropriately.

"I do not think the actions of Dr Katherine Astbury fulfil criteria for poor professional performance or professional misconduct," she said.

The report was considered by the preliminary proceedings committee who considered the complaint at different stages, including at meetings in November 2013, January 2014, April 2014, October 2014 and February 2015.

It also had a lengthy discussion with Dr Astbury and examined Ms Halappanavar's medical records.

It came to a final decision last February and decided there was "not sufficient cause to warrant further action being taken".

Their report went to a full meeting of the Council which agreed at its meeting earlier this month that no further action was warranted.

hnews@herald.ie

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