The situation for a 41-year-old woman terminally ill with cancer who is suing over the alleged misreporting of her CervicalCheck smear slides is “really desperate”, the High Court has heard.
And there are serious concerns that the woman “won’t make it” even if her action against the HSE and a US laboratory is brought forward to be heard in the next few weeks.
The High Court today heard the woman, who is currently receiving palliative care, has recently been told that palliative chemotherapy has not been successful, and she also has had to have surgery for a clot.
The woman cannot be identified by order of the court.
Her Counsel Patrick Treacy SC instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitor today applied for an earlier date for the hearing of the woman’s action which had been specially fixed for mid-September.
Counsel said the woman is extremely ill and “the situation is really desperate.” Last year, it was indicated to the court that the woman had between nine months to 18 months left to live.
Mr Treacy asked that the case would be rescheduled for September 1 and said the woman’s legal team is seriously concerned “she won’t make it” to that date.
He said she had to have surgery for a clot this week following a CT scan and has also been informed that palliative chemotherapy has not been successful.
Counsel said the woman is now further at risk of cancer reoccurrence and an expert on her side said it could “gallop through her”. Counsel told the court the woman’s legal team had sought mediation of her case but was informed that the defendants are not ready.
He told Mr Justice Kevin Cross the woman’s evidence may have to be taken on commission in advance of the scheduled hearing, but she has been so ill, it has not been possible to examine the possibility with her.
The woman 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 for malignancy or lesion. The woman was advised in a letter a few weeks later the smear test detected no abnormalities.
In 2018, it is further claimed she had another smear test which came back from the laboratory as negative for lesion or malignancy 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 diagnosed as having metastatic disease in her lungs and lymph nodes.
She claims she was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of a timely and effective investigation and management of her condition and of the opportunity of treatment at a time when her disease, she claims, was amenable to curative treatment.
Her life expectancy, she claimed, was caused to be significantly reduced and the alleged misreporting of her smear test, she has claimed, has resulted in an alleged missed opportunity to diagnose her cancer at a time when it was curable.
The defendants deny the claims.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross adjourned the case for mention next Tuesday when a medical report on the woman’s condition will be presented to the court.