Is it possible to claim for gynaecologist negligence if a specialist misread the results of a colposcopy and overlooked the early signs of cervical cancer?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Although it would appear that there are certainly grounds to consider a claim for gynaecologist negligence, in order to claim compensation for the failure to diagnose cervical cancer, it has to be shown that a deterioration in your condition would ‘on the balance of probabilities’ have been avoided had the correct diagnosis been made at the time.

In order to achieve this, a solicitor would engage the service of an independent gynaelogical expert to examine your medical history and the notes made at the time the original colposcopy was performed. If the expert can establish that ‘at the time and in the circumstances’ an avoidable error occurred due to the poor professional performance of your gynaecologist, the expert will then consider what difference the failure to diagnose cervical cancer made to your condition – taking into account the length of time that elapsed until the correct diagnosis was made and the subsequent deterioration in your condition.

Once it is established that you suffered an avoidable deterioration of your condition due to the negligence of your gynaecologist, the expert and your solicitor will calculate how much compensation for the failure to diagnose cervical cancer you are entitled to. This will be assessed on what treatment you have had to undergo which would not have been necessary had the gynaecologist identified the early stages of cervical cancer and the effect this oversight has had on your quality of life – both physically and emotionally.

Once your claim for gynaecologist negligence has been prepared, a ‘Letter of Claim’ will be sent to the negligent medical practitioner, advising him or her that you are claiming compensation for the failure to diagnose cervical cancer, supporting the claim with the evidence of gynaecologist negligence that the expert has compiled and inviting the gynaecologist to make an offer of settlement.

It may be possible that an admission of liability for your injury is delayed while the gynaecologist´s insurance company or the HSE conduct their own investigation into your claim, but the length of time it takes to resolve your claim for gynaecologist negligence should not be too long provided that your solicitor has compiled a sufficiently strong case, and your claim should be resolved without court action being necessary.

The above is a simple overview of the procedures that would have to be completed to successfully claim compensation for the failure to diagnose cervical cancer, depending on your individual circumstances, may differ according to your current level of health and how much time elapsed between the initial error and the correct diagnosis. It is recommended that you speak directly with a solicitor as soon as you possibly can, and we hope that this tragic event in your life has the best possible conclusion.