A 22-year-old Cork man with cerebral palsy who sued over the management of his birth has settled his High Court action for €11 million.
Keith Phelan has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy and has to use a wheelchair.
The settlement is against retired consultant obstetrician Dr Liam S Mundow of Douglas Road, Cork. Proceedings against the HSE were struck out.
The Phelan’s counsel, Dr John O’Mahony SC, told the High Court that serious consideration should have been given to the delivery of Keith on November 30, 1998, when the pregnancy was at 33 weeks but his mother’s private consultant obstetrician, Liam S Mundow, told her she would be taken in to hospital 12 days later.
“Dr Mundow indicated he was going on holiday, hunting and she would be brought in to hospital on December 12,” Counsel said.
He said it was their case that the baby should have been delivered on November 30 and when Mrs Phelan went to her GP on December 11 there was a red flag as she complained of the lack of foetal movement. She was brought to St Finbarr’s Hospital, Cork, and Keith was delivered by emergency Caesarean section.
The baby had to be resuscitated. Counsel said it was a very sad and tragic case.
Keith Phelan, Raheen Road, Youghal, Co. Cork, had through his mother Margaret Phelan sued the HSE and retired consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Liam S Mundow of Douglas Road, Cork.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly investigate, diagnose or treat the true nature of the condition of Mrs Phelan and her baby and that there was a delayed admission of Mrs Phelan to hospital.
Dr Mundow admitted that Mrs Phelan should have been hospitalised on November 30, 1998, with management in the form of close monitoring or delivery but denied other matters.
The HSE denied all claims in the case and the case against it was struck out.
Mrs Phelan who was a private patient of Mr Mundow when she was 33 weeks pregnant attended with the consultant obstetrician and was noted to be suffering from hypertension and it was determined she would attend at St Finbarr’s Hospital. At the hospital on November 24, 1998, it is claimed the hypertension along with headaches, elevated blood pressure with mild pre-eclamptic toxaemia were noted and she was informed that all was well with her pregnancy.
Six days later on November 30, 1998, it is claimed Mrs Phelan attended at Mr Mondow’s private rooms and he noted hypertension, protein in the urine and her blood pressure. She was informed that her pregnancy was to be managed with an admission into hospital on December 12, 1998.
It is claimed that Dr Mundow allegedly advised Mrs Phelan he would be away hunting the following week.
On December 11, 1998, it is claimed Mrs Phelan attended at her GP complaining of lack of foetal movement over the previous day and she was immediately admitted to St Finbarr’s Hospital.
In the hospital a CTG trace of the baby’s heartbeat was commenced and it showed a flat trace. It was decided in the light of the abnormal CTG that the baby might be at risk of hypoxia.
Baby Keith was delivered by emergency Caesarean section. He later had seizures. An MRI scan later showed a brain injury.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to properly investigate, diagnose or treat the true nature of the mother’s condition and in particular it is claimed there was an alleged failure to diagnose the baby’s situation was such as to require immediate attention where the outcome was rendered significantly more adverse by any delay.
The baby’s health, it is claimed, was as a result of the alleged inadequate and improper management and treatment, and he was significantly deprived of the opportunity of a material better outcome than would otherwise have been the case.
There was, it was claimed, an alleged failure to have regard to the fact that an admission to hospital for earlier delivery was warranted.
There was also, it was claimed, an alleged failure to be alerted on November 30, 1998, to a clear indication for delivery of the baby to avoid or minimise foetal injury and damage.
Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross congratulated Keith’s parents and family for all their work for their son.
Counsel told Mr Justice Kevin Cross Keith is a very happy young man who likes music and sport and is a Manchester United fan. He smiles a lot, Counsel said. He added the young man has very devoted and dedicated parents in Margaret and Tony Phelan.
Outside court Solicitor Ciaran McCarthy, on behalf of the family, said it had been a long journey for them.
They thanked their legal team, supporters and professional witnesses who assisted them and the courtesy they were shown along the way.
“This has been a long journey and it will make a huge difference to Keith’s life and his family. They have been extremely united,“ he said.
Keith’s sisters Kelly and Lindsay were also in court for the ruling of the settlement.