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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 9 April, 2020

'They found out she was dead so just filed it away': Daughter of woman who died in cervical smear scandal

Grace Rattigan spoke to RTÉ’s Ray D’Arcy about the death of her mother Catherine Reck.

Image: Shutterstock/Iryna Inshyna

THE DAUGHTER OF a woman who died after receiving a delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer has spoken of finding out that her mother was one of now 18 women who have died following a misdiagnosis.

Grace Rattigan spoke to RTÉ’s Ray D’Arcy about the death of her mother Catherine Reck, who died in 2012 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Grace had described how her mother had a routine smear test in November 2010. Catherine’s results said that she had low-grade abnormalities and was told she’d have to come back in six months for a retest.

However, after this she began to suffer from irregular bleeding and presented to the GP in April 2011, and it wasn’t until August of that year after a colposcopy was performed that she was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.

Grace said in a widely shared Facebook post on Friday that her family had been informed that her mother was one the then 17 women caught up in the CervicalCheck scandal who has died.

The stories of the women affected by the incorrect smear test results have continued to emerge over the past few weeks, since Vicky Phelan’s successful High Court case over her missed diagnosis.

Both Phelan and Emma Mhic Mhathúna have told the harrowing stories of being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and the scandal has caused the government to set up an independent inquiry into how this happened and resulted in the resignation of HSE director general Tony O’Brien last week.

This evening the HSE confirmed that the number of women affected by the CervicalCheck have died.

Speaking today Grace Rattigan spoke about finding out that her mother was one of the 18 women caught up in the scandal.

“We had assumed we were one of the 17 but we weren’t 100% sure,” she said, when news of Vicky Phelan’s case broke.

They contacted Tallaght Hospital to arrange a meeting where they were informed last week that Catherine was one of the people who had been given a misdiagnosis.

“So what actually happened was my mam had a smear in November 2010, it was reported as low grade abnormalities, she was told to wait six months,” she said.

What actually should have happened was it should have been reported correctly as high grade abnormalities that needed immediate referral and she should have been seen no later than January 2011.

The information had been discovered in 2016, but the family wasn’t informed.

“They found out she was dead so just filed it away,” she said.

In her Facebook post on Friday, Grace said she and her family were “numb” after the news.

“We are numb, we are angry; we have been brought back to the start of a long and difficult grieving process. This changes everything, all of the “what if’s” suddenly feel different,” she said.

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Cormac Fitzgerald

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