Saturday 17 March 2018

Doctor’s alleged failure to put adequate plan for baby's treatment in place 'amounted to poor professional performance', fitness-to-practice inquiry hears

The baby suffered severe oxygen deprivation at birth. Getty Images/iStockphoto
The baby suffered severe oxygen deprivation at birth. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sam Griffin

AN expert in paediatrics says a doctor’s alleged failure to put in place an adequate plan for the treatment of a baby who suffered severe oxygen deprivation at birth “amounted to poor professional performance”.

Dr Kevin Connolly, a retired paediatrician with 40 years experience, was giving evidence at a Medical Council fitness to practice inquiry this morning.

The inquiry, in its fourth day of hearing evidence, is probing allegations of poor professional performance 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 caesarean section.

The baby was diagnosed with Hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (HIE) shortly after birth -  a condition where insufficient levels of blood and oxygen can get to the brain.

It is alleged the baby should have received specialised hypothermic treatment, known as “cooling”, within six hours of the diagnosis, as well as arranging transfer to a hospital with an intensive neo-natal unit where such treatment can be performed.

This morning Dr Connolly said such treatment has been proved to “significantly reduce” risk of death or severe disability. When asked if such a failure to arrange this treatment amounted to poor professional performance on the part of Dr Khan, he said it was his opinion that it did.

Under questioning by Ms Elaine Finneran BL, representing the CEO of the Medical Council who is taking the case, Dr Connolly said he felt it was the responsibility of individual doctors to keep up to date with the latest procedures and practices.

He stated that he felt “it incumbent on a doctor to keep up to date with relevant treatments and with relevant guidelines.”

He agreed that all allegations against Dr Khan, if found to be true, amount to poor professional performance.

Under cross-examination, Dr Khan was asked if he felt the promulgation of national guidelines around transferring patients to other hospitals should have included training for doctors and nurses in their hospitals.

It is also alleged Dr Khan told the baby's family that 'Patient BT' was 'fine'.

"My understanding with using the word fine is that there are no significant concerns," Dr Connolly told the inquiry. "In this case there were significant concerns."

He added: "If the word fine was used, I don't feel that reflects the situation."

The inquiry continues.

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