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Woman with terminal cancer settles smear test case for €2.5 million

“The last few months have been so stressful for me and my family – just that thought of facing court as I recover from the last treatments of chemotherapy.”

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/kurhan

Updated Apr 4th 2019, 10:30 PM

A WOMAN WHO has terminal cervical cancer has settled her High Court action over the alleged misreading of a smear test for €2.5 million.

The mother-of-two, who is aged in her 40s, had sued the HSE and three laboratories over the alleged misreading of a test taken in 2010.

The settlement has been made with Clinical Pathology laboratories – the lab in Austin, Texas, responsible for reading the slide taken from the smear test.

Proceedings have been struck out against the HSE and two other laboratories, Sonic Healthcare and Medlab Pathology, RTÉ News reports.

The woman’s solicitor, Cian O’Carroll, read a statement on her behalf outside the court today.

He said: “It’s almost a year exactly since CervicalCheck hit the headlines and we learned about audits and incorrectly read smears, women kept in the dark…

“This scandal shocked the nation as it shocked me. We were all let down. People looked for answers but got none. Resignations followed but they didn’t fix the problems – they probably just upset people more.

In the heat of those concerns, we all heard the declarations that no woman would have to go to court and that all the women caught up in this scandal would get support. We were under the illusion that this would happen – but it was just that – an illusion.

O’Carroll said there is “no doubt that cervical screening saves lives” but that people “need to know for sure that the system for screening is of the highest standard”.

‘Facing court while recovering from chemo’ 

Speaking on the woman’s behalf, he asked why her case was not included in the HSE’s  CervicalCheck audit.

O’Carroll said the woman didn’t think she would have to go down the legal route but “was left with no choice”.

The last few months have been so stressful for me and my family – just that thought of facing court as I recover from the last treatments of chemotherapy.

“I am glad now that this battle is over, but I am still leaving here with cancer because I put my trust in a flawed screening programme,” he said on her behalf.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for the HSE said: “Since 2010, CervicalCheck was notified by hospitals of cervical cancer cases. These women were then included in the CervicalCheck audit.

“The Scally Report identified gaps in this notification process and made a series of recommendations in order to ensure that all cervical cancer cases are known to the programme.

There were particular recommendations regarding the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI).  Unfortunately, as a result, the CervicalCheck audit was not aware of many women who had developed cervical cancer.

“Dr Scally also said that the audit was established with laudable aims, but the planning, governance and documentation were inadequate. He made a specific recommendation that audits should be an important component of cervical screening based on good clinical practice.”

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Órla Ryan

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