Family demands HSE apology over misdiagnosis


The parents of Co Clare cancer victim Edel Kelly today demanded that the Health Service Executive (HSE) apologise for failing to diagnose their daughter’s cancer.

Edel Kelly (26) died last June after first presenting to the hospital with a lump in her breast. The lump was initially diagnosed as benign but a request for subsequent follow-up to confirm this was not acted upon.

The cancer was finally diagnosed in October 2007, by which time it had spread to the mother of two's liver and bones.

The case relating to Ms Kelly comes only 10 days after the revelation that another woman, Ann Moriarty (53) died after a cancer misdiagnosis at the same hospital.

The Kelly family’s solicitor, Eugene O’Kelly told a press conference in Kilrush today that the failure by Ennis General Hospital to diagnose Edel with breast cancer had robbed her of one year of treatment.

Ms Kelly’s mother Una said an apology wouldn’t bring her daughter back. “But we feel that [the HSE] should apologise. We want to change the system that is there at the moment.”

The parents are now seeking a meeting with HSE chief exeutive, Dr Brendan Drumm in order to press their demand for an independent inquiry into Edel’s case.

Fine Gael Health spokesman Dr James Reilly said today confidence in the Health Service Executive (HSE) was damaged and that an independent inquiry by the Health, Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) was essential.

“The decision of the Kelly family to come forward with the details of Edel’s case reflects once again the frustration and upset caused to patients and their families by the HSE’s handling of such cases," he said.

“To do justice to those who have suffered we must have an independent enquiry by HIQA, as in the case of Rebecca O’Malley, to give clarity on what happened here and make recommendations to limit the possibility of it happening again,” he added.

Clare Fine Gael TDs Joe Carey and Pat Breen added their voices to the call for an independent inquiry.

"This is no longer an internal HSE matter after we were assured in recent weeks the Ann Moriarty case was an isolated one and there was no systematic failure. An enquiry must take place to restore public and patient confidence in Ennis General,” said Mr Carey.

Mr Breen said the party would be raising the two misdiagnoses with Minster for Health Mary Harney when the Dáil resumes later this week.

The Irish Cancer Society said diagnosis and initial treatment of breast cancer should take place in a specialist environment.

In a statement this afternoon, the society’s chief executive John McCormack said: “Having all healthcare professionals involved in a woman’s care from the day she presents to a designated breast cancer centre ensures that no specialist  operates in isolation and care of patients is discussed by many specialists working on the same site.”

“This increases expertise, facilitates peer reviews and effective leadership and minimises errors,” he added.

He said it was essential that there be a mechanism for measuring standards in each designated centre.

Women concerned about any issues can call the Action Breast Cancer Helpline on Freefone 1800 30 90 40. The line is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and is staffed by specialist breast care nurses.