Decision to rule out 'cooling' in baby case criticised
Published 13/05/2015 | 02:30
a doctor's alleged failure to put in place an adequate plan for treating a baby deprived of oxygen at birth "amounted to poor professional performance", according to a medical expert.
Dr Kevin Connolly, a retired paediatrician with 40 years' experience, was giving the evidence at a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry.
The inquiry is probing allegations made against Dr Mohammad Ilyas Khan - a locum consultant paediatrician at South Tipperary Hospital.
The allegations relate to the birth of 'Patient BT', who was born at the hospital on June 15, 2012 following an emergency C-section. He now suffers with cerebral palsy.
The baby was diagnosed with Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) - where the brain receives insufficient levels of blood and oxygen - after birth.
It is alleged Dr Khan should have ordered specialised hypothermic treatment, known as "cooling", within six hours of the diagnosis, as well as making arrangements for transfer to a hospital with a neo-natal care unit.
Dr Connolly said such treatment had been proved to "significantly reduce" risk of death or severe disability. When asked if the alleged failure to arrange this treatment would amount to poor professional performance by Dr Khan, he said it was his opinion that it would.
He said: "All allegations against Dr Khan, if found to be true, amount to poor professional performance."
Dr Connolly was challenged by Eugene Gleeson SC, representing Dr Khan, that a conversation took place between Dr Khan and his registrar Dr Amin Abdelrahim around 11pm or 11.30pm when "cooling" was considered but ruled out.
He put it to Dr Connolly that Dr Khan was not made aware the baby had been showing seizure-like activity.
"Why is Dr Khan being asked to face these serious allegations when he has not been kept properly informed by his eyes and ears in the hospital?" Mr Gleeson asked.
Dr Connolly told the inquiry he could not "get away from the fact" that an anti-seizure drug, called phenobarbital, had been prescribed.
He said in his opinion this decision would only have come from Dr Khan who therefore was aware the baby was convulsive and met the criteria for the "cooling" treatment.
The case continues.