Women ‘from all over the country’ contact solicitor over tests

Vicky Phelan

A solicitor who specialises in medical negligence cases has received instructions from almost a dozen women in the aftermath of the Vicky Phelan’s High Court case.

Earlier this week the mother of two settled a High Court action for €2.5m against a US lab over her smear test results, which were incorrectly reported as clear. She was diagnosed with cancer three years later.

Damien Tansey, medical negligence lawyer at Tansey Solicitors in Sligo, has urged women who fear their cases may be outside the statute of limitations to seek legal advice, as they may still have time to lodge proceedings.

He said that on Wednesday alone, his office had 11 calls “from concerned women who had tests done under the cervical screening programme and who have now discovered that the tests taken showed borderline nuclear changes that were not adequately and sufficiently followed up”.

“Obviously when we get a call like that we arrange to meet the client immediately. Instructions in a medical negligence action can’t be done over the phone. 

"It’s a very exacting and demanding science and we will arrange to meet all of those, we will travel to meet them sometimes. The calls came from all over the country,” Mr Tansey told the Today show on RTÉ Radio 1.

“[There were] a number from Dublin numbers, from the south, and a number from surrounding counties here in Sligo. We will arrange to meet all of those and fully investigate them but on the basis of what we learned yesterday, we expect that we will be instituting proceedings in some of them.”

He said some of the cases were historic. 

“Concern was expressed by some of them that they were out of time, and of course they’re not because in medical negligence, the clock in relation to the statute of limitations only started to run when you make the discovery. 

"So in all of those cases, we have reassured them that though their positions are historical they’re not out of time.”

He said he hoped for greater transparency. 

“I’m practising medical negligence for 34 years, and I’m listening to discussions at all levels, at ministerial level, at department level, about the desirability of having a regime of candour and transparency in relation to medical adverse events and it has never happened. 

"Hopefully if legislation is introduced underpinning that regime and creating a situation where the doctor or the hospital or the institution is obliged under sanction to disclose [serious reportable events], hopefully we might get there this time.”

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