The husband of a woman who died from breast cancer after getting the all-clear in two mammograms has said it is “hard to understand” the failure to detect the abnormalities.
The National Screening Service has apologised to the husband and family of a Tipperary woman who died of breast cancer after abnormalities in her BreastCheck mammograms were not detected in 2011 and 2013.
Two opportunities were missed to intervene, the service acknowledged in a public letter of apology read to the High Court yesterday.
Kay O’Keeffe, a grandmother of two, was 63 years of age when she died of breast cancer six years ago.
She got the all-clear on her 2011 and 2013 mammograms, but, in June 2014, after she found a lump on her breast, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. It spread to her liver and brain and she died on May 12, 2017.
In a case taken to the High Court, experts were to saythe delay of three years in initiating treatment allowed the cancer, which was probably curable in March 2011, to become categorically incurable in 2014.
Outside the Four Courts, a statement read on behalf of Ms O’Keeffe’s husband Patrick said BreastCheck now has the responsibility to provide assurances to women in Ireland that such “failures can never happen again”.
“How could two consecutive mammograms, on the same person, performed two years apart, be misread on each occasion, when every mammogram is read independently by two consultant breast radiologists?” Mr O’Keeffe’s statement said.
“It is extremely hard to understand how the failure to detect abnormalities on four independent readings occurred and clearly indicates a process failure.”
Labour TD Alan Kelly, who attended the court case, said the apology marks the culmination of years of struggle by the O’Keeffe family “to get some level of justice for Kay’s treatment”.
“They owed it to Kay,” Mr Kelly said.
“I am a huge supporter of BreastCheck and indeed all screening services. Screening saves lives.
“However, it is incumbent on me to ask the National Screening Services and BreastCheck what they have done in the intervening years to ensure no such process failures as catastrophic as this could ever happen again and I will, in support of the O’Keeffe family, continue to do so