Woman with cancer suing over cervical smears agrees to mediation talks

Dublin woman alleges misinterpretation of her CervicalCheck smears

Mediation talks will take place on Friday between the legal teams representing Orla Church and the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics.  The defendants have denied the claims. Photograph: Getty Images

Mediation talks will take place on Friday between the legal teams representing Orla Church and the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics. The defendants have denied the claims. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A 55-year-old Dublin woman with cancer who has sued over alleged misinterpretation of her CervicalCheck smears has agreed to enter mediation talks.

At the High Court on Wednesday, Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told mediation talks will take place on Friday between the legal teams representing Orla Church and the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics.

The judge said he realised there was “extreme urgency” in the case and said: “If it can be done, it can be done.”

He will be told next week whether the mediation talks have been successful.

Patrick Hanratty SC, for the HSE, said it had suggested mediation to explore the possibilities.

Ms Church, of Elm Mount Avenue, Beaumont, Dublin has sued the HSE and Quest, which provided cervical cytopathology laboratories and services to the HSE as part of the CervicalCheck screening programme.

It is claimed Ms Church had a smear test in September 2011 which was sent to a laboratory operated by Quest and the laboratory report on the sample stated no abnormality was detected and recommended routine screening.

In September 2014, Ms Church had another smear test as part of her routine screening and the laboratory report showed no abnormalities and advised normal recall.

Ms Church, it is claimed, was referred to hospital in December 2015 with pelvic pain and was later diagnosed with cervical cancer with a tumour of more than 4cm showing up in a scan.

It is claimed her two smear tests were reviewed as part of the cancer audit process case review and by an independent external pathologist.

It is claimed, on review in the audit process, no change was made to the reporting of the 2011 smear test, but a change was made to the 2014 smear test result.

Following review by the external pathologist in March 2017, both smear test results were changed from the original negative category, it is claimed.

Ms Church alleges the reporting by the Quest laboratory led to a false negative result both in September 2011 and in September 2014 and says there was no intervention in her condition until after May 2016 when she underwent treatment.

In September 2017, she suffered a deterioration in her health and was advised in May 2018 there was a recurrence of her cancer with secondary tumours in her kidneys.

Her prognosis is extremely poor, it is claimed.

She alleges failure to diagnose and/or misinterpretation and also alleges failure to refer her to the proper and appropriate specialists for prompt investigation, monitoring or early diagnosis. Upon discovering she was suffering from cervical cancer, she says she suffered profound shock, distress and upset. The defendants have denied the claims.