At the High Court a compensation action for a 46-year-old terminally ill mother-of-four in relation to the alleged incorrect reporting of three of her smear tests has been settled.
The case was taken against the US laboratory, Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, (CPL) Austin, Texas, Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford, Dublin and the HSE in relation to three separate smears that were taken during 2011, 2012 and 2014 which, it was claimed, were incorrectly reported. Additionally it was alleged that cytological cell changes were allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until the woman was diagnosed with cancer six years ago during 2015. At this point she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2015 which recurred during 2020.
Additional claims said that there was a failure to identify precancerous or cancerous cells and that the woman’s constitutional rights were breached by the unacceptable delay in conveying the results of the screening audit to her.
All of these claims were refuted by the defendant and the settlement was approved with no admission of liability. The HSE admitted that the result of the slides review should have been shared with the woman as soon as CervicalCheck was made aware of it.
The plaintiff, who cannot be named by the order of the court, provided her testimony via video link.
Giving her evidence to the court the woman said the current COVID19 pandemic has allowed her more time at home with her children. She said: “Even if we are sitting on the sofa looking at a movie, we are making memories”. In relation to the care that she was given during her illness she said: “Nobody looked after me. I don’t get to see my children grow up”.
She told the Judge that she was confused why she was called back to her specialist’s office following the 2016 internal review by CervicalCheck which upgraded her smear slides from the initial reporting of no abnormality detected. The specialist at that time informed her of the results of the review but reassured her it made no difference to her clinical outcome. She said: “I trusted him I did not question what he told me. Speaking about the external review of her cervical smear slides that showed the number of missed opportunities to properly diagnose her cancer she said that she was sad, angry and dumbfounded.
The woman informed the Judge the remainder of her life will be dedicated to making memories with her children. She said: “Everything is about making memories, I don’t know how much time I have left”.
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,” she said.