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Sunday 22 July 2018

More women suing over Cervical Cancer scandal

Irene Teap died last July after an incorrect result.
Irene Teap died last July after an incorrect result.

Another woman is suing the HSE, a cervical screening laboratory and two doctors in a case in which it is alleged anomalies in a smear test were missed.

The Herald has learned of the proceedings, which were issued last year by a woman from the midlands.

It is among 10 active cases relating to the national cervical screening programme, Cervical- Check.

However, many more cases, some involving gravely ill women, are expected to issue legal proceedings within days as the full scale of the cancer scandal becomes apparent.

The midlands woman had a smear test in 2015 which showed no abnormalities on its initial review. However, a subsequent review detected cervical carcinoma.

Irene with her husband Stephen trying on wigs after her diagnosis.
Irene with her husband Stephen trying on wigs after her diagnosis.

High Court proceedings were initiated last year against MedLab Pathology, the HSE and the doctors, but the case is understood to be at an early stage.

Unlike the lawsuit taken by terminally-ill mother-of-two Vicky Phelan, there is no suggestion that information about her diagnosis was withheld from the woman.

She was also lucky in that the cancer had not progressed to a life-threatening stage when she learned she had the disease, and she was immediately able to receive treatment.

MedLab has said it cannot comment on matters before the courts.

The case is one of five listed in High Court records where MedLab is a defendant or co-defendant.

In another of these cases, against MedLab and the HSE, a woman in the south of the country has alleged that she was given the all-clear for three successive years, only for her cancer to be detected retrospectively during an audit.

The woman is currently undergoing treatment.

MedLab is a sister company of Clinical Pathology Laboratories, the company which settled Ms Phelan's action for €2.5m.

Strength

Her case lifted the lid on a range of serious concerns about the running of the cervical cancer screening programme.

Five cases were also initiated in recent years where another laboratory used in the programme, US-based Quest Diagnostics, is a defendant or co-defendant.

Separately, the words of a mother who died from cervical cancer after two incorrect smear tests live on in a heartbreaking blog she wrote detailing her treatment and family life.

The blog, Fierce and Fighting, depicts the enduring strength of mother-of-two Irene Teap, who died last July 26, aged 35.

Her husband, Stephen Teap, has also publicly spoken of his devastation at first losing his wife and then receiving a phone call last week from the HSE revealing that Irene had been one of 17 women who died after incorrect test results.

"Irene would have wanted to know," Mr Teap told a Sunday newspaper. "That's the kind of person she was. She would have analysed that audit in depth and asked all the right questions."

The mother of two boys, aged five and three, from Carrigaline, Co Cork, wrote in her blog that she had visited Disneyland Paris with her family despite being in a wheelchair.

Last July 3, only weeks before her death, Ms Teap wrote on Facebook that she had treated herself and her two sons to a simple "pyjama day" as one child was struck with chicken pox and how she was "one momma worn out after chemo".

In her blog on May 23, she wrote: "We got to the Disney- land Hotel... and it was magical.

"I don't know if it was adrenaline, dumb luck or Disney magic (I'm going with the pixie dust personally) but once we were actually there I started to feel so much better.

"We rented a wheelchair for me and because I can't stand or walk for long periods at the moment, we got a priority pass that allowed us to skip most of the queues. This trip to Disneyland gave me so much more than just a few days away.

Memories

"It was a complete break from real life - everything was colourful, everyone was smiling and happy and the world just seemed like a better place.

"It gave me a mental recharge that'll hopefully get me through the next few months of chemo.

"And more than that, it gave me memories. I can't count the number of times my eyes filled up with tears just watching the boys beaming and laughing and having fun. Their smiling faces are the very best medicine."

Within weeks, Ms Teap was dead, having succumbed to the cancer that had spread to her liver and lungs, three years after the all-clear in 2013.

Mr Teap received a phone call from the HSE last Tuesday informing him that two of the smear tests had produced false negative results in 2010 and 2013.

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