Woman settles action over smear tests on confidential terms

Claimant and husband tested for HIV, Hepatitis B and gonorrhoea before cervical cancer diagnosed

A woman who found out she had cervical cancer just two months after giving birth to her baby has settled a High Court action over her smear tests. Photograph: iStock

A woman who found out she had cervical cancer just two months after giving birth to her baby has settled a High Court action over her smear tests. Photograph: iStock

 

A woman who found out she had cervical cancer just two months after giving birth to her baby has settled a High Court action over her smear tests.

The 39-year-old, who cannot be identified by court order, and her husband had brought proceedings against the HSE, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc and MedLab Pathology Ltd.

The case revolved around smear tests the woman had in 2011, 2013 and 2014 under the national screening programme, which were later found in a review to have been allegedly inaccurately reported.

Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty was told on Wednesday that the consolidated actions by the couple had settled on confidential terms.

At the opening of the case, Liam Reidy SC, instructed by solicitor Orla Kelly of Cantillons, for the woman, said she had gynaecological symptoms since late 2013 and had even been tested for several diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B and gonorrhoea.

“The indignity of that is hard to conceive, knowing that from her perspective none of those conditions could have been transmitted to her. But, worse, her husband also had to undergo testing,” counsel said.

“It is hard to envisage the tension that existed in the household at that time when these types of conditions were being postulated for testing.”

Continued symptoms

The woman continued to suffer the gynaecological symptoms throughout her pregnancy.

After the birth of her baby boy in late 2015, she continued to have symptoms and in January 2016 was told her cervix looked abnormal.

Further investigations took place and a biopsy was performed, with cervical cancer confirmed in late January 2016.

Following the diagnosis, her previous smear tests results were reviewed as part of an audit process in July 2016. She was told the results of the review in November 2016. She had to have chemotherapy, radiation therapy and brachytherapy, the court heard.

The woman and her husband had sued the HSE, MedLab Pathology Ltd of Sandyford Business Park, Dublin and US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc with headquarters in Austin, Texas.

Frightened

It was claimed the smear samples of 2011, 2013 and 2014 were incorrectly reported and there was failure to diagnose the woman’s pre-cancerous cells on a timely basis. It was claimed the woman felt terrible through the first year of her son’s life in 2016 and became frightened she had given the cancer to her baby through her milk.

It was further claimed, when shown the review of her smear tests, she could hardly believe what she was seeing and that, following her cancer diagnosis and throughout her treatment, she was convinced she was going to die.

Even when she went into remission, it was claimed she was unable to see any future. All the claims were denied.