Cervical check: Court action by woman who died of cancer is settled

Orla Church (54) was 21st woman to die arising out of smear tests controversy

Charles Church, father of the late Orla Church, pictured leaving the Four Courts on Thursday after her High Court action was settled. Photograph: Collins Courts

Charles Church, father of the late Orla Church, pictured leaving the Four Courts on Thursday after her High Court action was settled. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

A legal action by a woman with cervical cancer who died last week has been settled at the High Court.

The family of 54-year-old Orla Church were in court on Thurday when Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told her case was settled. Ms Church died on January 19th.

Richard Kean SC told the judge Ms Church’s father, Charles, and her sister were in court.

Counsel said it had not been possible to proceed with a mediation which was last mentioned to the court just days before Ms Church died. It had been possible to take instructions regarding a settlement of the case.

Orla Church had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics. Photograph RTÉ Liveline Callback
Orla Church had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics. Photograph RTÉ Liveline Callback

Counsel said the Church family wanted to thank the court and its registrar Grainne O’Loughlin for expediting the matter.

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Cross offered his sympathy to Mr Church and his family on their loss.

The judge also congratulated the legal teams on all sides for reaching a settlement.

If anybody had delayed, it would never have been settled, he said.

The case was brought over alleged misinterpretation of CervicalCheck smears.

Cervical Cytopathology

 

Ms Church, Elm Mount Av

enue, Beaumont, Dublin, had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated of Delaware which provided cervical cytopathology laboratories and services to the HSE as part of the ChervicalCheck screening programme.

Ms Church had a smear test in September 2011 which was sent to a laboratory operated by Quest Diagnositcs. The report back from the laboratory after testing the sample said no abnormality was detected and recommended routine screening.

In September 2014, Ms Church had another smear test as part of her routine screening and the laboratory report also showed no abnormalities and advised normal recall.

Ms Church was referred to hospital in December 2015 with pelvic pain and was later diagnosed with cervical cancer with a tumour of over 4cm showing up in a scan.

Her two smear tests were reviewed and it was alleged the results were amended in both cases.

It was claimed, on review, no change was made to the reporting of the 2011 smear test but a change was made to the 2014 smear test result.

It was further claimed, following review by an independent external pathologist in March 2017, both smear test results were changed from the original negative cateogry.

No intervention

Ms Church alleged the reporting by the Quest Diagnostics laboratory led to a false negative result both in Spetember 2011 and in September 2014.

She contended there was no intervention in her condition until after May 2016 when she underwent treatment.

In September 2017, she suffered a deterioration on her health and was advised in May 2018 there was a recurrence of her cancer with secondary tumours in her kidneys.

She alleged failure to diagnose and to refer her to the proper and appropriate specialists for the purpose of the prompt investigation m onitoring or early diagnosis.

Upon discovering she was suffering from cervical cancer, Ms Church said she suffered profound shock, distress and upset .

All claims were denied by the defendants.