Woman loses action over BreastCheck screening

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland found Siobhan Freeney's cancer showed normal or benign features in the screening mammogram and therefore the reporting of that 2015 mammogram as normal was not negligent.
Woman loses action over BreastCheck screening
The HSE, the judge ruled, acted appropriately in not identifying Siobhan Freeney for clinical recall following her screening in June 2015. File image

A mother of two who sued claiming her BreastCheck screening at a mobile unit was allegedly carried out negligently has lost her High Court action.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland found Siobhan Freeney's cancer was a true interval cancer in that it showed normal or benign features in the screening mammogram and therefore the reporting of that 2015 mammogram as normal was not negligent.

Equally, the HSE, the judge ruled, acted appropriately in not identifying Ms Freeney for clinical recall following her screening in June 2015 having regard to her clinical presentation and given the guidelines on clinical recall.

Who will pay the substantial legal costs of the 12-day hearing and two days at remote hearing will be decided at a later date.

Siobhan Freeney (59) of Clonattin, Gorey, Co Wexford had sued the HSE. She had claimed there was an alleged failure to refer her for further assessment including ultrasound examination on June 17, 2015. She further claimed there was an alleged failure to advise, treat and care for her in a proper skilful, diligent, and careful manner and an alleged failure to use reasonable care, skill and judgment when reviewing her mammogram taken on June 17, 2015.

She had further claimed there was an alleged failure to identify that features in her mammogram of her right breast taken on June 17, 2015 were suspicious of cancer and she was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and management of her condition.

All the claims were denied.

In a judgement delivered electronically, Ms Justice Hyland said Ms Freeney was undoubtedly very breast aware, going for her mammograms at two yearly intervals and checking her breasts regularly. She had a mammogram in June 2015 that was reported as clear. She was then diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2015 after she identified symptoms and went to her GP and was referred for further assessment.

The judge said this was undoubtedly a very difficult time for Ms Freeney as was her subsequent treatment over the following months. She underwent chemotherapy and a mastectomy of her right breast, but the judge said happily her treatment was successful and Ms Freeney is at present free of cancer.

Ms Justice Hyland found on the balance of probabilities at the screening Ms Freeney identified what she felt was an existing issue and not a new area of concern and referred to cysts and did not identify that she felt a lump and had identified she felt something in her right breast.

The judge concluded that a note had correctly been made of what Ms Freeney said rather than making a clinical recall since Ms Freeney had not identified symptoms requiring recall under the Guidelines. Accordingly, the judge said the allegation of negligence was not made out.

The judge found as a matter of fact that Ms Freeney did not alert the radiographer to a new cyst or abnormality and the radiographer correctly did not therefore consider her symptom to come within the guidelines and so did not clinically recall Ms Freeney.

The judge said the radiologists were therefore entitled to proceed on the assumption the cyst felt by Ms Freeney was not new and therefore not a basis for recall.

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