Man with cerebral palsy settles case over his birth for €11m

Doctor admitted pregnant woman should have been hospitalised two weeks before baby’s birth

A young man with cerebral palsy who sued over the management of his birth has settled his High Court action for €11 million. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A young man with cerebral palsy who sued over the management of his birth has settled his High Court action for €11 million. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A young man with cerebral palsy who sued over the management of his birth has settled his High Court action for €11 million.

Keith Phelan, now aged 22, has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.

The settlement is against retired consultant obstetrician Dr Liam S. Mundow of Douglas Road, Cork. Proceedings against the HSE were struck out.

Dr John O’Mahony SC, for Mr Phelan, told the court serious consideration should have been given to Mr Phelan’s delivery on November 30th, 1998, when his mother Margaret’s pregnancy was at 33 weeks.

He said Mrs Phelan’s private consultant obstetrician, Dr 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 12th,” counsel said.

Their case was that the baby should have been delivered on November 30th, 1998 and, when Mrs Phelan went to her GP on December 11th, there was “a red flag” as she complained of a lack of foetal movement.

She was brought to St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork and Keith was delivered by emergency Caesarean section and had to be resuscitated. Counsel said it was a “very sad and tragic” case .

Mr Phelan, of Raheen Road, Youghal, had, through his mother, sued the HSE and Dr Mundow. It was claimed there was 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.

Admitted

Dr Mundow admitted Mrs Phelan should have been hospitalised on November 30th, 1998 with management in the form of close monitoring or delivery, but he denied other matters. The HSE denied all claims against it and the case against it was struck out.

Mrs Phelan, who was a private patient of Mr Mundow, attended him at 33 weeks gestation and was noted to be suffering from hypertension and it was determined she would attend at St Finbarr’s Hospital.

At that hospital on November 24th, 1998, it is claimed the hypertension, along with headaches and elevated blood pressure with mild preeclamptic toxaemia were noted, and she was informed all was well with her pregnancy.

On November 30th, 1998, it was claimed that Mrs Phelan attended at Mr Mundow’s private rooms and he noted hypertension, protein in the urine and her blood pressure. She was informed her pregnancy was to be managed with an admission into hospital on December 12th, 1998.

It was claimed Dr Mundow allegedly advised Mrs Phelan he would be away hunting the following week.

Lack of foetal movement

On December 11th, 1998, it was 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 light of the abnormal CTG , the baby might be at risk of hypoxia.

Keith was delivered by emergency Caesarean section, later had seizures and a MRI scan later showed a brain injury.

It was claimed there was failure to properly investigate, diagnose or treat the true nature of his mother’s condition and failure to diagnose the baby’s situation such as to require immediate attention where the outcome was rendered significantly more adverse by any delay .

Approving the settlement, Mr Justice Kevin Cross congratulated Keith’s parents and family for all their work for their son.