Terminally ill woman seeks urgent hearing of case over smear slides

Counsel concerned his client (41) ‘won’t make it’ if action not heard until mid-September

A terminally ill woman is seeking an urgent hearing of her High Court action over the alleged misreporting of her CervicalCheck smear slides. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

A terminally ill woman is seeking an urgent hearing of her High Court action over the alleged misreporting of her CervicalCheck smear slides. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times.

 

A terminally ill woman is seeking an urgent hearing of her action over the alleged misreporting of her CervicalCheck smear slides.

The situation facing the 41-year-old woman is “really desperate” , her counsel Patrick Treacy SC told the High Court on Friday.

There are serious concerns that the woman, who the court has ordered cannot be identified, “won’t make it” even if her action against the HSE and a US laboratory is brought forward, counsel said.

It was indicated to the court last year that the woman had an estimated nine to 18 months to live.

Mr Treacy, instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitor, asked that the case be rescheduled for September 1st rather than for the middle of that month.

He said the woman had to have surgery for a clot this week following a CT scan and has been informed that palliative chemotherapy has been unsuccessful. The woman is now further at risk of cancer recurrence, he said.

Not ready

Mr Treacy said his side had sought mediation in the case but was informed that the defendants are not ready. The woman’s evidence may have to be taken on commission in advance of the scheduled hearing but she has been so ill it has not been possible to examine that possibility with her, he added.

The woman and her partner have sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics. It is claimed that the woman had a cervical smear test in June 2016 under the national cervical screening programme, which was examined in a Quest Diagnostics lab and came back as negative for malignancy or lesion.

The woman was advised in a letter a few weeks later the smear test detected no abnormalities. It is claimed that in 2018 the woman had another smear test which came back from the laboratory as negative for lesion or malignancy. She was told in a letter in February of last year that the test had detected no abnormalities.

Metastatic disease

She was diagnosed with Stage 2 cancer last July and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She was diagnosed with metastatic disease in her lungs and lymph nodes in April.

The woman claims she was deprived of the opportunity of a timely and effective investigation and management of her condition and of the opportunity of treatment at a time when her disease was amenable to curative treatment.

She alleges that her life expectancy was caused to be significantly reduced and that the alleged misreporting of her smear test led to an opportunity to diagnose her cancer at a time when it was curable being missed.

The defendants deny the claims.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross adjourned the case for mention next Tuesday when a medical report on the woman’s condition will be provided to the court.