HSE apologises to terminally ill woman over 'negligent' smear test

Family sued over alleged delays in diagnosing cancer, saying it had impact on treatment and life expectancy
HSE apologises to terminally ill woman over 'negligent' smear test

Patricia Carrick from Galway who has settled her case over her smear tests. 

The HSE and a testing laboratory have apologised in the High Court to a mother of four who is terminally ill with cancer for a smear test which they acknowledge was read in a manner that was negligent.

The apology was read out at the Four Courts as Patricia Carrick and her husband Damien settled their High Court action in which it was claimed Mrs Carrick's smear test was misdiagnosed or misreported.

The 51-year old woman was too ill to attend the Four Court to hear the apology and is currently in hospital. A letter containing the apology is to be sent to the Carrick family.

Her husband Damien sat in the courtroom as counsel for the HSE Patrick Hanratty SC read out the apology on behalf of the HSE and the MedLab Pathology Ltd.

It stated: "The Health Service Executive and Medlab Pathology Ltd acknowledge that the liquid-based cytology sample of May 31, 2016, was read in a manner that was negligent and in breach of duty.

We wish to sincerely apologise that this occurred and for the consequences and distress that this has caused for you all.

The apology was personally addressed to Mr and Mrs Carrick and their four children, Ciaran, Rioghna, Sorcha, and Eoin.

The Carricks' counsel Patrick Treacy SC, instructed by Cian O'Carroll solicitor, told the court the case had settled after going to mediation. Mrs Carrick he said is currently in University Hospital, Galway.

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

Mrs Carrick, an administrator, from Oranmore, Co Galway, along with her husband Damien, had sued the HSE claiming the alleged failures in care on the balance of probability caused an alleged delay in diagnosing her cancer which she said caused a loss of opportunity of cure.

Mrs Carrick, whose youngest child is 13, 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.

Mrs 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.

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

She 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 were denied but in court today the HSE and MedLab Pathology acknowledged the 2016 sample was read in a manner that was negligent and in breach of duty.

The HSE had last July 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 would be seeking an indemnity from MedLab.

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

The details of the settlement handed into the High Court today are confidential. 

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