Terminally ill woman settles action over cervical smears

Mother (46) breaks down as she says she will not get to see her four children grow up

The woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 and her cancer recurred last year.

The woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 and her cancer recurred last year.

 

Awoman who is terminally ill with cervical cancer has settled her High Court action over the alleged incorrect reporting of three cervical smear tests.

The terms of settlement are confidential.

The 46-year old mother broke down in court earlier this week when she said she will not get to see her four children grow up.

Giving her evidence by video link, the woman - who cannot be identified - said her life now is about “making memories”.

“I don’t know how much time I have left,” she said.

On Wednesday, the third day of the hearing, the court was told the action had been settled.

Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon said it had been a privilege to have presided over the case and hear the woman’s evidence. She wished the woman and her family the best.

The case concerned three smears taken, in 2011, 2012 and 2014. The woman was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 and her cancer recurred last year.

She sued US laboratory, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, (CPL) Austin, Texas, Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford, Dublin and the HSE.

It was claimed the three smears were incorrectly reported and cytological cell changes were allowed develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until the woman was diagnosed with cancer in 2015.

There was, it was further claimed, failure to diagnose pre cancerous or cancerous cells on a timely basis. It was also claimed the woman’s constitutional rights were breached in the alleged inexcusable delay in conveying the results of the screening audit to her.

The laboratories denied all the claims and the settlement against them was without admission of liability.

‘Nobody looked after me’

The HSE had accepted the outcome of the slides review should have been made known to the woman as soon as CervicalCheck was notified. The reassurance given by the specialist in 2018 regarding no alteration to her clinical outcome,it has said was given in good faith but it admitted the further review concluded the reassurance was not accurate.

Oonah McCrann SC, instructed by Cantillons solicitors, for the woman, had told the judge the situation for the woman, who was a much-loved wife and mother, was “very dire.”

In her evidence to the court the woman said she trusted doctors to look after her but she fell at every turn. “Nobody looked after me. I don’t get to see my children grow up,” she added.

Referring to an external review of her cervical smear slides which concluded there were missed opportunities in her case to diagnose and treat pre cancer, she said she was sad, angry and dumbfounded.

She was told in February 2020 her cancer had returned and spread to other parts of her body and “was everywhere”.

Referring to the 2016 internal review by CervicalCheck which upgraded her smear slides from the initial reporting of no abnormality detected, and which she was only told about two years later, she said her specialist told her the results of the review but reassured her it made no difference to her clinical outcome.

“I trusted him, I did not question what he told me.”

When after the external review she found out the specialist’s reassurance was incorrect, she said she got angry and upset. “I think of my children and everything we are going through.”