Friday 22 February 2019

Two more women are suing HSE over delays in smear test results

Terminally-ill Vicky Phelan settled her action for €2.5m
Terminally-ill Vicky Phelan settled her action for €2.5m

Two more legal actions have come before the High Court involving women suing over alleged delays relating to CervicalCheck smears.

The cases are the first to be listed in the court since the CervicalCheck smear controversy arose last month when Limerick woman Vicky Phelan settled her action for €2.5m.

In court yesterday, dates were set in July for the hearing of the two actions and for another by a woman who has ovarian cancer, all relating to previous cancer checks.

All cases are against the HSE and laboratories that carried out the original tests.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross also granted an order that the women in all three cases are not to be identified in any way.

In the first cervical smear case, the court heard the prognosis for the woman is "not good".

She has been given a life expectancy of between six and 12 months and only heard of the alleged misdiagnosis of a 2012 smear test on May 3.

In the second cervical smear case, the court heard the woman is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy as she suffers from cervical cancer and breast cancer.

Counsel Jeremy Maher said she had a smear test in 2009 and another in 2012, which came back negative. Her cervical cancer was diagnosed this year.

Counsel said the cervical cancer should have been detected earlier.

He said a review of the smear tests was carried out in 2014 and 2015, but the woman was not informed of the review or of the review results that showed the original test results were incorrect.

Mr Maher said the woman had a life expectancy "limited to months".


There would be a real concern if the case was not heard until October, he added.

In the ovarian cancer case, the court heard the woman involved had a family history of ovarian cancer and had checks between 2010 and 2017.

The woman had a hysterectomy and other procedures last year when it was discovered she had stage three ovarian cancer, which had not been diagnosed previously.

Counsel Patrick Treacy, for the woman, said his side would contend that the diagnosis should have been made earlier and there were alleged indicators in 2013.

He asked that this matter be case-managed by the court and an early hearing be set because of the dire situation.

He said the solicitors involved were co-operating regarding discovery of documents necessary for the case.

Counsel for the HSE, Patrick Hanratty, said there was no objection to the application and the case was set down for July.

Fixing all three cases to go on trial for different dates in July, Mr Justice Cross urged the parties involved to explore alternative means of resolution.

The cancer-screening controversy emerged last month when Ms Phelan (43) settled for €2.5m her court action against a US laboratory that the CervicalCheck screening service had sub-contracted to read smear tests.

Ms Phelan developed cancer after receiving a false negative result in her smear test.

It later emerged that test results had been misread in 209 cases.

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