The HSE and a testing laboratory have apologised in the High Court to a terminally ill woman over the negligent reading of a smear test.
The apology was read as Patricia Carrick and her husband Damien settled their High Court action in which it was claimed Mrs Carrick’s smear test was misdiagnosed or misreported.
The 51-year-old mother of four is in hospital and was too ill to attend court to hear the apology. A letter containing the apology will be sent to the family.
Mr Carrick was in court as Patrick Hanratty SC, for the HSE, read the apology on behalf of the HSE and MedLab Pathology Ltd which acknowledged that a 2016 sample "was read in a manner that was negligent and in breach of duty". They apologised that it happened and for the "consequences and distress".
The apology was addressed to Mr and Mrs Carrick and their children, Ciaran, Rioghna, Sorcha and Eoin. Patrick Treacy SC, instructed by Cian O'Carroll solicitor, for the family, said the case had settled after going to mediation.
Mrs Carrick was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year and underwent treatment, but she suffered a relapse of the cancer in February and is now terminally ill and receiving palliative care.
An administrator, of Oranmore, Co Galway, she and her husband sued the HSE claiming failures in care had, on the balance of probability, caused delay in diagnosing her cancer which she said caused a loss of opportunity of cure. Mrs Carrick, whose youngest child is 13, further claimed it has impacted on her life expectancy and she has been unable to work since July last year.
She had a routine smear test in 2014 and it is claimed the cytology report issued showed no evidence of neoplasia. Another smear test in 2016 also showed no evidence of neoplasia. In 2018, a further smear was reported as unsatisfactory for assessment, and Mrs Carrick was advised she needed to have a repeat smear test in three months.
In February 2019, she had a smear test which was reported as showing no abnormalities. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer five months later which had spread to her pelvic lymph nodes. She claimed she was deprived of the opportunity of timely and effective investigation and management of her condition and of the opportunity of treatment when her disease was allegedly amenable to curative treatment.
The claims were denied but on Tuesday the HSE and MedLab Pathology acknowledged the 2016 sample was read in a manner that was negligent.
Outside the court, Mr Carrick said said on July 29th last year his wife received a phone call to tell her she had cancer.
“Since that time our very private and happy lives in Galway have been marred by the horrendous situation that we found ourselves in.” He said she is a great mother, a really good friend and “the glue that keeps the Carrick house in order”.
He said she was diligent with her health and attended for her smear tests regularly. “If she was here today, she would be encouraging all women to go for their smears regularly and to listen to their bodies,” he said. She would also be calling on the Government to implement the Scally report “to ensure the women of today live to be the mothers of tomorrow”.