Seriously ill woman’s action over cervical smears adjourned for two weeks

Request by Quest was ‘a very significant ask’ and ‘an infinity’ for Lynsey Bennett (32), court told

One expert had worked from an image of a slide and had not seen the actual smear slide,counsel for quest told the court. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

One expert had worked from an image of a slide and had not seen the actual smear slide,counsel for quest told the court. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

The hearing of an action by a seriously ill woman over alleged misinterpretation of her cervical smear slides has been adjourned for two weeks at the High Court.

The action by Lynsey Bennett (32), a mother of two who is seriously ill with cancer, had been set down for an urgent hearing on January 20th.

On Wednesday, US laboratory Quest Diagnostics — Quest — obtained a two week adjournment to February 3rd from Mr Justice Kevin Cross who said he hoped the matter would move to mediation.

Jeremy Maher SC, for Ms Bennett, had said a two week adjournment was “a very significant ask” and “an infinity” for his client and her lawyers were concerned about her health.

Counsel said he understood from Gillian O’Mahony, solicitor for Ms Bennett, a two week adjournment would be “devastating” for Ms Bennett.

Emily Egan SC, for Quest, had earlier applied for the “short indulgence” of a two week adjournment. Her side were not ready for the case to go ahead on January 20th and difficulties had arisen in relation to expert reports, she said.

One expert had worked from an image of a slide and had not seen the actual smear slide, Ms Egan said. “We are only a couple of days from trial and we just are not ready.”

It was not possible to progress to mediation without the full expert reports, she added.

Counsel said she appreciated it is very difficult for Ms Bennett but it was impossible for Quest to be ready for January 20th.

Ms Bennett, Ennybegs, Killoe, Co Longford, has sued the HSE; Irish testing laboratory, Eurofins Biomnis Ireland Ltd, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin; and Quest over alleged misinterpretation of her cervical smear slides taken under the national screening programme.

She had a smear test on February 3rd 2010 which was sent to Eurofins Biomnis in Dublin. The test, it is claimed, came back as negative and another smear test was recommended in three years.

On December 16th 2013, Ms Bennett had another smear test. This sample was sent to Quest, allegedly came back as showing atypical squamous cells of undetermined significance and a smear test in twelve months was recommended.

On December 2nd 2014, Ms Bennett had another smear test and the sample was reviewed by Quest. It is claimed the result came back negative and a repeat smear in a year was recommended.

Another smear test in January 2016 was, it is claimed, tested by Quest and she was told no abnormalities had been detected and she would be reminded to have her routine smear test in three years time.

Eleven months later, she went to her GP complaining of bleeding and was referred to hospital. In January 2017, invasive cervical cancer was diagnosed and she had a hysterectomy and other surgery.

In March 2018, she was found to have a recurrence of the cervical cancer.

It is claimed there was failure to correctly report or diagnose and an alleged misinterpretation of Ms Bennett’s smear samples and that her cancer was allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January 2017.