THE HIGH COURT has heard that the HSE has yet to admit full liability regarding the botched cervical smear results given to Kerry woman Emma Mhic Mhathúna.
Today, at a case management hearing, legal representatives for Mhic Mhathúna, who is terminally ill and had taken the case along with her five children in the wake of the recent cervical check scandal, queried whether or not the executive will be contesting liability with regard to the part of the the case relating to the misreading of cervical check results.
RTÉ reports that counsel for Mhic Mhathúna Patrick Tracey told the court that, despite being given assurances from both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste that no woman affected by the scandal would have to go to court, her legal team was still having to prepare requests for discovery of documents as liability had not yet been admitted.
It also emerged that one of the plaintiff’s previous smears dating from 2010 was also the subject of an audit by the American laboratory which had handled the checks, Quest Diagnostics.
Counsel for the HSE Patrick Hanratty meanwhile asserted that while the HSE was in a position to admit liability regarding the audit of cervical checks, it was not in a position to do so with regard to the missed cancer diagnoses involved.
He added, however, that the HSE would be making every effort to settle the various cases being taken via mediation, rather than in the courtroom.
Justice Kevin Cross also made the point that not every such case would result in an admission of liability, and that the HSE was not the same as the State.
Speaking after today’s hearing, Cian O’Carroll told RTÉ that previously Mhic Mhathúna and her legal team had only been aware of audits of cervical check slides from tests in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
“There was no reference to an audit in 2010,” he said.
Now the laboratory has furnished documents that show that an audit was in fact done of a 2010 smear, and that this is very significant in terms of the upgrading of what they found.
“It’s a concern that those documents were not within the cervical check records,” he added.
The case will return to court tomorrow for further case management.
The HSE and Department of Health have been contacted for comment on this matter.
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