Ireland drops 3 doctors from probe panel after Savita’s husband objects

The Ireland government has removed three doctors of University Hospital, Galway, from the investigation panel that was formed to probe the tragic death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar.

The three doctors are John J Morrison (a consultant obstetrician gynaecologist); Catherine Fleming (a consultant in infectious diseases); and Brian Harte (a consultant in anaesthesia and intensive care).

Prime Minister Enda Kenny told lawmakers that he hopes that this move will allow her widower to support the probe. Praveen Halappanavar, who returned to London on Sunday, had said that he would not cooperate with the probe because three senior doctors of University Hospital, Galway, were appointed as investigators.

Savita, 31, had died of blood poisoning in the hospital on October 28 after she was admitted with pain and an imminent miscarriage. Doctors refused her requests for a termination stating that the 17-year-old foetus still had a heartbeat and that it is a Catholic country.

Ireland had earlier formed a seven-member team for investigation and had promised that the official inquiry would be fair and methodical and that it will be concluded in the shortest possible time.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) has set up the inquiry team, and it would be headed by Dr Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, a London-based obstetrician/gynaecologist, The Irish Times reported.

Apart from Arulkumaran, the members will now include Cathriona Molloy, a founding member of patient advocacy group Patient Focus; Cora McCaughan, the co-chair of the HSE's national incident management team; Geraldine Keohane, the director of midwifery and nursing at Cork University Maternity Hospital.

Arulkumaran, the head of obstetrics and gynaecology at St George's Hospital, University of London, said the team would over the next three days examine the case notes, look at guidelines and interview the various people involved in the treatment of Savita.

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