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Savita inquest is told of four-hour delay



Date Published: 12-Apr-2013

THE Inquest into the death of Savita Halappanavar heard yesterday that the particular strain of bacteria identified in her blood culture was a highly unusual one in a maternity setting, and the only such result seen across four other maternity hospitals in as many years.

At the fourth day of the inquiry at Galway Courthouse, a concern was raised following the deposition by consultant microbiologist, Dr Deirbhile Keady, over an apparent delay of nearly four hours between a crucial sample being taken and it being received in the lab on October 24 – four days before she died.

Dr Keady said that there had been no collection time (from the ward) written on the sample, but that the computer entry from the lab indicated that it was ‘booked in’ there at 10.12am – another doctor had told the Inquest on Wednesday that the sample was taken from Savita at 6.30am.

Senior counsel for Mr Halappanavar, Eugene Gleeson, had put it to the witness that any such delay would have been crucial in the care of his client’s late wife.

However, Dr Keady said that this would not have been the case. She became aware of Savita’s grave condition when consultant obstrician, Dr Katherine Astbury, sought her advice on the management of the infection that the young woman obviously had – the bacteria was later established as ‘ESBL e-coli’ – and that the medication did not change once the result was confirmed.

“In this situation, from the conversation I had (with Dr Astbury), she was put on appropriate antibiotic treatment – the result didn’t change the management,” Dr Keady told Mr Gleeson.

“These antibiotics cover all the likely pathogens … the treatment covers a range of bacteria … it wouldn’t have made a difference if we’d got the blood culture at 6am.”

She said that when the results were relayed to her at home that night, she rang the nurse caring for Savita to check that she was still on the same two antibiotics that had been prescribed earlier in the day, which she was.

“I understood (from the call) that she was more stable,” she said.

Mr Buckley pointed out to the Inquest that the organisms had been “sensitive” to the medication.

He asked Dr Keady to explain if ‘ESBL e-coli’ was a common finding in a maternity setting, to which she replied that it was very unusual. She went on to say that she subsequently contacted four other maternity units around the country and discovered that, of results recorded over a four-year period, this was the only blood culture to come back as ‘ESBL e-coli’.

For further reports see page 6 of this week’s City Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

Real Galway flavour to intermediate club hurling battle in Birr



Date Published: 23-Jan-2013


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Archive News

Athenry fail to take chances as they bow out of Junior Cup



Date Published: 29-Jan-2013

Athenry FC 1

Kilbarrack United 2

(After extra time)

For the second year in succession Athenry were done in extra time in the FAI Junior Cup as last season’s beaten finalist’s came from behind to snatch an excellent game in Moanbawn on Sunday afternoon.

On a heavy pitch that was only playable following extensive groundwork by club officials all morning, the home side were by far the better side in the opening half, but failed to take advantage of a number of opportunities that came their way.

An Alan O’Donovan penalty gave them a merited advantage just after the restart, but thereafter were on the back foot as Kilbarrack took over, but for all their pressing, the home rearguard were dealing comfortably with their forays.

However they were struck a body blow just six minutes from time, as big striker Keith Kirwan was left all alone at the far post to head the equaliser and from that point on the Dubliners were the better side.

They started off the extra time in the ascendancy and enjoying all the momentum before striking for a good winning goal on 104 minutes. A strong bench allowed them to make some necessary changes and it was not a facility that was available to Athenry manager Gabriel Glavin.

With Gary Forde and Gary Delaney out through suspension following their sending off against OLBC in the previous round, and Seamie Crowe injured, it left their bench rather threadbare with just a number of young squad players available.

Playing with the aid of the slight incline and any wind advantage going, the home side had a Connor Cannon effort on target in the opening minute, while John Meleady was just over with a flick at the other end.

Meleady then tested Andrew Walsh who saved comfortably, before the goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant double save on 14 minutes.

Firstly he went full length to push away a Meleady shot and was then back on his feet to parry David Jackson’s close-range rebound.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.

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