Terminally ill mother claims smear tests were misdiagnosed

Mother-of-four suing the HSE claiming the alleged failures in care have on the balance of probability caused an alleged delay in diagnosing her cancer which she says has caused a loss of opportunity of cure
Terminally ill mother claims smear tests were misdiagnosed

The HSE applied to the High Court to have the MedLab laboratory joined as a co-defendant in the proceedings claiming there were exceptional circumstances to do so. Stock image.

A mother of four who is terminally ill with cancer has launched a High Court action claiming smear tests taken under the national screening programme were allegedly misdiagnosed or misreported.

The 51-year-old woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year and underwent treatment, but she suffered a relapse of the cancer in February and is now terminally ill and receiving palliative care.

Administrator, Patricia Carrick, Oranmore, Co Galway along with her husband Damien has sued the HSE claiming the alleged failures in care have on the balance of probability caused an alleged delay in diagnosing her cancer which she says has caused a loss of opportunity of cure.

Ms Carrick, whose youngest child is 13 years of age, has further claimed it has impacted on her life expectancy and she has been unable to work since July last year when she was first diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Ms Carrick had a routine smear test in 2014 and it is claimed the cytology report issued showed no evidence of neoplasia. Another smear test in 2016 also showed no evidence of neoplasia.

In 2018, a further cervical smear test under the national screening programme was reported as unsatisfactory for assessment and Ms Carrick was advised she needed to have a repeat smear test in three months. In February 2019 she had the smear test which was reported as showing no abnormalities.

Ms Carrick was diagnosed with cervical cancer five months later which had spread to her pelvic lymph nodes.

She has claimed she was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and management of her condition and of the opportunity of treatment at a time when her disease was allegedly amenable to curative treatment.

The claims are denied.

The HSE today applied to the High Court to have the MedLab laboratory joined as a co-defendant in the proceedings claiming there were exceptional circumstances to do so.

Partrick Hanratty SC for the HSE also said the HSE will be seeking an indemnity from MedLab.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross turned down the application but said MedLab can be allowed into the proceedings as a third party.

The High Court also heard today that in the case of a 41-year-old terminally ill woman with cancer who is suing over the alleged misreading of her CervicalCheck smear slides the prognosis is extremely limited.

Jeremy Maher SC instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitor for the woman said a medical report indicated that the prognosis for the woman is extremely limited and it may prove fatal before any potential benefit from her next treatment. He said his side wanted to bring forward her action from September 16 to September 2.

The woman who is currently receiving palliative care cannot be identified by order of the court.

She and her partner have sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated.

It is claimed the woman had a cervical smear test in June 2016 under the national cervical screening programme which was tested in a Quest Diagnostics lab and came back as negative.

In 2018, it is further claimed she had another smear test which came back from the laboratory as negative and in a letter in February 2019 she was told that smear test detected no abnormalities.

The woman was diagnosed in July 2019 with Stage 2 cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In April this year she was told the disease had spread to her lungs.

She claims there was an alleged missed opportunity to diagnose her cancer at a time when it was curable.

The defendants deny the claims.

Declan Buckley SC for Quest Diagnostics told the court his side would not be ready for a September 2 hearing and had offered mediation in September when all their inquiries have been made.

Ruling that the hearing will stay special fixed for September 16 next, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was not disposed to bringing the hearing forward and he had to be fair to all parties involved.

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