Beaumont Hospital is being sued in the High Court over the alleged misreporting of a smear test of a nurse who four years later died of cervical cancer.
Oonagh McEvoy, a heart and lung transplant co-ordinator and nurse at the Mater hospital, was 36 years of age when she died from metastatic cervical cancer on April 11th, 2011.
In the High Court on Friday Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds was told by senior counsel for Beaumont Hospital, Conor Bourke, that the hospital admitted failings in relation to Ms McEvoy’s 2007 smear test which was reported as negative. Counsel apologised on behalf of the hospital in respect of that smear test and a breach of duty was admitted in relation to it.
Ms McEvoy’s brother, chartered accountant Emmett McEvoy, has taken the case against the Beaumont Hospital Board. Mr McEvoy, who resides in the UK, has brought the action as the personal representative of his sister. Beaumont Hospital Board is being sued in its capacity as operators of Beaumont Hospital and which was responsible for the provision of cervical cytopathology services at the time of Ms McEvoy’s smear test in 2007 and before the CervicalCheck national screening programme came into being.
Counsel for Mr McEvoy, Jeremy Maher SC, instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitors, said the McEvoy family, from Ballinalee, Co Longford, including Ms McEvoy’s elderly mother, Mary, and 11 siblings were united in grief.
Ms McEvoy, he said, left a deep void in the lives of her family. Counsel said the McEvoys had accepted what happened until the controversy broke in relation to cervical smear tests and the Vicky Phelan case in 2018.
He said Ms McEvoy had a smear test on January 30th, 2007, which was tested in the Beaumont Hospital laboratory and came back as negative. Counsel said it was their case that there was pre cancer of the cervix and if the smear test had been correctly reported, “it could have been solved simply” with a certain procedure.
He said Ms McEvoy would have lived a normal life with normal life expectancy.
“It’s the tragedy at the heart of the case. She should have had a full life ahead of her,” counsel said in his opening statement to the court.
In 2010 Ms McEvoy had a scan and a biopsy which showed the presence of cervical cancer. Counsel said the nurse was devastated and concerned as to how it occurred because she had been so vigilant in relation to her health.
She had to have a hysterectomy as well as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. She died on April 11th, 2011 from metastatic cervical cancer.
In the proceedings it is claimed there was an alleged failure to correctly report Ms McEvoy’s smear test taken in January 2007 and that her cancer was allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in and around October 2010.
Ms McEvoy, it is claimed, was deprived of the opportunity of timely and effective management of her condition and she was allegedly deprived of the opportunity to get treatment at a time when her disease was amenable to curative treatment.
A breach of duty is admitted in the case in relation to the 2007 slide but other matters around liability and causation are at issue in the case. Beaumont Hospital has also claimed that the claim is statute barred.
The case before Ms Justice Leonie Reynolds continues next week.