Woman (37) whose smear tests were incorrectly reported feels let down by system

The 37-year-old cancer sufferer is suing over two smear tests which were incorrectly reported


The State Claims Agency said on Friday it is seeking a resumption of mediation in the case being taken by Ruth Morrissey and her husband in the High Court for damages over the alleged misreporting of her smear test results. She now has cervical cancer.

Ms Morrissey (37) and her husband Paul Morrissey, of Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick have sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd, with offices at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin, along with Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park.

Friday was the third day of the Morriseys High Court action over two cervical smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012.

Ms Morrissey suffered a recurrence of her cervical cancer this year and was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

It is claimed there was failure to correctly report and diagnose and misinterpretation of her smear tests taken in 2009 and 2012.

In a statement issued on Friday, the State Claims Agency said it considered mediation provided the “best route” for a resolution “without adding to the considerable distress and trauma that Ms Morrissey and her family have already suffered”.

It also said “an attempt earlier this week to resolve this case through mediation was unsuccessful. The SCA seeks to resolve claims through mediation wherever possible.”

Later, in a statement issued through their solicitors Ruth and Paul Morrissey said they feel deep hurt at the State Claims Agency’s statement. They described as “sham mediation” what had taken place last week. “Ruth and Paul believe that the State showed no interest whatsoever in resolving their case by mediation prior to the media focus on their ordeal in court this week”.

In their High Court action is is alleged a situation developed where Ms Morrissey’s cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

It is further claimed a review of the 2009 and 2012 smears took place in 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Ms Morrissey’s treating gynaecologist in 2016, but she was not told until last May of those review results which showed her smears were reported incorrectly.

The HSE has admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but not to her husband and it admits the results of her smear reviews should have been made known to Ms Morrissey.

The laboratories deny all claims.

A stoic person

On Friday, Dr John Hillery, a psychiatrist who met the Morrisseys in their home on June 11th, told the High Court she feels let down by the system and the medical practitioners she had seen.

He said he would have expected Ms Morrissey to talk about the diagnosis of a recurrence of her cervical cancer but the discussion “was about the things she should have been told and that she was let down”.

Dr Hillery said she talked about her 2009 smear and if it would have made a difference to her and she had noted her mother would have been alive at the time to support her.

“She told me the anger was gone. She did not present as angry or bitter but as a stoic person.”

He said Ms Morrissey was worried how her husband was going to cope without her and she worried about her daughter growing up without a mother. The “three of them” did everything together, he said.

He said Ms Morrissey’s father, when he was ill, had shared everything with her and she had resolved not to do that with her daughter and tried to hide how she feels.

Dr Hillery said when he asked Ms Morrissey how she sees the future her answer was a positive one where she has a picture of the three of them together in a life that goes on as before.

He said Ms Morrissey’s husband feels he is living under a dark cloud and that one of their life achievements is their family unit. The recurrence of the cervical cancer was “a watershed” for the Morrisseys.

Ms Morrissey’s multidisciplinary team were meeting on Friday to discuss her future treatment and whether it could have an effect on her prognosis, the court heard.

When the court has that information, it will decide at what stage during the courts vacation, beginning on August 1st, it will continue the hearings.