Intended for healthcare professionals


Report into death of pregnant woman denied an abortion blames clinical mistakes rather than Irish law

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 14 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f3908
  1. Muiris Houston
  1. 1Galway

A report into the death of Savita Halappanavar, described by Ireland’s health minister as a “hard hitting report which spares nobody and doesn’t pull any punches,” identifies three main factors behind the death of the 31 year old dentist at University Hospital Galway last October.

The report published on 13 June by the Health Service Executive, does not name individuals but makes important recommendations aimed at clarifying the law and the medical handling of complicated obstetric emergencies, including sepsis, the cause of death of the woman, who was 17 weeks pregnant.1 2

The three factors identified by the investigation team, which the report labels key causal factors that led to Halappanavar’s death, were:

  • Inadequate assessment and monitoring that would have enabled the clinical team to recognise and respond to the signs that her condition …

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