30 Jun 2022

Comment: Action needed after Savita inquest

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The systematic failures and deficiencies detailed in the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar are shocking.

The systematic failures and deficiencies detailed in the inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar are shocking.

Much still remains to be answered.

Ireland is rated as one of the safest countries in the world for a woman to have a child and the standard of maternity care in hospitals is very high.

However, as the tragic case of Savita clearly shows, this does not count for much much if it results in one fatality.

Clarity in this whole area is clearly needed, and it’s needed by a medical profession which often has to take decisions in the heat of the moment, when a patient’s life may be at serious risk.

The inquest jury asked that guidelines from the Medical Council lay out exactly when a doctor can save the life of the mother to “remove doubt and fear from the doctor and also reassure the public.”

The public does need reassurance on this.

The Medical Council has indicated that it will consider the recommendations, but it is considered unlikely that there will be any new guidelines until after legislation on the X case is passed.

The political ramifications of the inquest should be to stiffen the Government’s resolve to legislate on this case in the near to medium term.

Indeed it is past time that this issue was dealt with.

Maternity hospitals and units across the country will undoubtedly review their standards across a range of crucial areas, including proper and effective communication, follow ups and ongoing checking.

This can only be a good thing.

It is worth recalling as well that the standard of health care in Ireland remains high, despite all the bad press it sometimes gets.

Yet, as with all systems there are shortcoming, and these can be very serious.

Legislation is now needed.

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