Doctor offers heartfelt apology over interpretation of woman’s smear test

High Court hears the result was a delay in the detection of woman’s cancer

The woman, who cannot be identified, has sued  over the reading of her  smear test slide taken on April 22nd 2013 under the Cervical Check screening programme.

The woman, who cannot be identified, has sued over the reading of her smear test slide taken on April 22nd 2013 under the Cervical Check screening programme.

 

A cytopathologist has apologised at the High Court to a woman who had a cervical smear test incorrectly reported as negative three years before she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a hysterectomy.

The apology came on the second day of the woman’s action against the HSE, Medlab Pathology and a UK cytopathologist, Dr Colin Clelland.

In the apology read by Emily Egan SC, Dr Clelland conveyed his “sincere and heartfelt apologies” in relation “to an incorrect interpretation” of the woman’s 2013 smear that “caused a delay in the detection of your cancer and for the resulting trauma that you have suffered”.

It continued: “I recognise also your fertility has been adversely affected along with the physical effects of the surgery and the emotional consequences of a cancer diagnosis.”

Dr Clelland offered his deepest sympathy to the woman and wished her well for the future.

The woman, who cannot be identified, has sued the HSE, Medlab Pathology Ltd and Dr Clelland, of Haddington, Oxford, England who examined her smear slide taken on April 22nd 2013 under the Cervical Check screening programme.

She claimed the smear test was falsely reported as being negative with a recommendation she be discharged to routine recall for a further smear in three to five years.

She says she was required to have more radical surgery and treatment and her health has been seriously adversely affected.

‘Flashing red lights’

Had her 2013 smear been reported correctly, she claimed she would have been referred for a colposcopic assessment which is what happened three years later when she had a smear test in 2016 and a high grade squamous lesion was found.

Liability has been conceded in the case and it is before Mr Justice Kevin Cross for assessment of damages only.

In opening the case on Thursday, Dr John O’Mahony SC, for the woman, said, when she had a cervical smear test in 2013 there should have been “flashing red lights” but the result came back negative.

Three years later she was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a hysterectomy.

Had it not been for the misreporting of the April 2013 smear, she has claimed she would not have had a hysterectomy and would have retained her fertility.

“Her intention was to have a family, she is family focused. It was her desire to have children. She looked forward to being a mother, she is saddened by this,” counsel said.

Dr O’Mahony said the woman does not currently have cancer but is “not out of the woods” and has reviews every three months. She has also been left with a chronic condition which causes swelling in her body, he added.

The case resumes next week.