Boy was suitable for ‘cooling’ treatment, fitness inquiry told

An inquiry at the Medical Council heard yesterday about the devastating effects cerebral palsy has had on a 2-year-old boy and his family.

A paediatric expert also told the inquiry the boy fully met the criteria for an important cooling treatment which he did not receive on the night he was born.

The fitness to practice inquiry into consultant paediatrician Mohammad Ilyas Khan continued yesterday at the Medical Council in Dublin. The allegations claim that Dr Khan, who was working at South Tipperary General Hospital in 2012, did not put an adequate treatment plan in place following the baby’s birth and diagnosis of hypoxic ischaemic encephalopathy (hypoxia), or lack of oxygen to the brain.

Specifically, it is alleged Dr Khan failed to make sufficient arrangements so that the baby, referred to as ‘BT’ throughout the inquiry, could receive hypothermic, or ‘cooling’, treatment.

BT, who was born on June 15, 2012, suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen and now has cerebral palsy.

Yesterday, Adela Vatca, who was working as an SHO at South Tipperary General Hospital on the night BT was born, said she and a midwife performed CPR on him as he was blue and not breathing. Dr Vatca said did not see the baby seizing at any point.

Dr Khan prescribed phenobarbitone at around 12.30am on June 16. The anti-seizure medication is usually prescribed for seizures, although, prior to 10 years ago, it was also prescribed to sedate a baby.

Dr Vatca said she did not ask why BT was given anti-seizure medication. “It was not my decision,” she said.

John Walsh

said he first met BT when he was three weeks old, shortly after he was released from the National Maternity Hospital, where he was transferred to two days after he was born.

Dr Walsh formally diagnosed BT with evolving cerebral palsy last month.

BT began to walk just before his second birthday and continues to walk with a ‘broad-based gait’, or a wide stance, because he remains a little unsteady on his feet.

In terms of language, he has a good understanding of what is said to him “but his expressive language is a bit delayed”, said Dr Walsh.

When asked about BT’s future prospects, Dr Walsh said: “It’s impossible to predict, really.”

A committee member asked Dr Walsh whether the prescription of phenobarbitone could mask signs or symptoms, such as jerky movements, of potential issues. Yes, it could, he replied.

Retired paediatric expert Kevin Connolly

said yesterday BT fit the criteria set out in national guidelines for the cooling treatment.

Research has found the cooling treatment, in which a baby’s body temperature is cooled using special mats, can potentially reduce the extent of brain damage in full term infants following a lack of oxygen to the brain.

Dr Khan is expected to speak today, when the inquiry continues.

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