HSE assures mothers-to-be that key safety measures have been implemented at UHG

The HSE West has assured the 3,500 mothers-to-be who attend University Hospital Galway that key safety measures have been implemented following the tragic death of 31-year-old Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar at the hospital following a miscarriage in late October.

Early warning scoring systems have been introduced in addition to all staff being educated in the recognition, monitoring and management of sepsis and septic shock, a meeting of the local health authority’s regional health forum was told on Tuesday.

Addressing the meeting in Galway, Tony Canavan, the chief operating officer for the Galway and Roscommon University Hospitals Group, stated also that multi-disciplinary team-based training in the management of obstetric emergencies, including sepsis, had been introduced. He said the hospital had also improved its communications processes and will implement new procedures for doctors’ handovers.

These “significant measures” to improve patient safety had been undertaken even before the inquest into the death of the mother-to-be at the west’s biggest hospital took place, he outlined.

His reply followed a written question from the forum chairperson Cllr Padraig Conneely asking if the coroner’s recommendations had been implemented, when the HSE’s internal review would be published and what was the status of the health regulator HIQA’s investigation.

Mr Canavan pointed out that the chairperson of the HSE investigation team, Professor Sir Arulkumaran, met with Mr Halappanavar’s representatives, including his solicitor, on May 15 in Galway. They presented their views on the report to the chairman and the review team has now also received their submission in writing.

“As set out in the terms of reference, the intention remains to complete the proceedings in the shortest time frame necessary to achieve the purpose of the investigation, while protecting the rights of all involved. While we haven’t been given a date yet we expect the independent chairman, Prof Sir Arulkumaran, and his team will finalise the report in the coming weeks.”

He outlined there is a separate HIQA investigation under way. Its team visited UHG on a number of occasions and the hospital is also co-operating fully with this investigation.

“As this is again an independent investigation, we are not in a position to give a timeline as to when it will be completed.”

Mr Canavan stated that most of the coroner’s recommendations apply at a national level and a number will need to be considered in the light of recommendations arising from the other two investigations.

“When guidance is available nationally it is our intention to take on board all three sets of recommendations once they are available to us.”

He conclued by asking forum members not to raise any questions or issues that would impinge on patient privacy or could prejudice the work of the investigation team or HIQA.

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