News Courts

Thursday 2 October 2014

HSE apologises over failure to diagnose woman's cancer

Tim Healy

Published 14/05/2014 | 02:30

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Orla, Tanya and Sinead McEneaney, sisters of the late Sharon McEneaney, leaving court yesterday.
The late Sharon McEneaney
The late Sharon McEneaney

THE family of a woman who died after her cancer went undiagnosed for nine months have said they hope no other family will have to go through the same trauma.

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The HSE unreservedly apologised for shortcomings in the management and care of Sharon McEneaney (31) who died from a tumour in 2009.

The creche manager had visited Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, on several occasions from October 2007 but was only diagnosed in July 2008, Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told.

Yesterday, the McEneaney family appealed to the HSE to implement the six outstanding recommendations out of the 38 recommended following a review after the tragic death.

"We hope the lessons from this case will be learned by the hospital and all involved in the health services and that no other family will have a similar experience to ours."

In a statement outside the High Court yesterday, Sharon's sister Sinead, on behalf of the family, said they welcomed the ruling of the settlement of €62,500 for the family and the apology.

"Sharon was a beloved daughter, sister and friend," she added.

Ms McEneaney, Magheracloone, Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, died from what the High Court heard was a particularly virulent and aggressive abdominal cancer.

Liam Reidy, for the family, said Ms McEneaney had been referred to Our Lady of Lourdes on three occasions between October and November 2007.

She first went in in October 2007 with abdominal pain and underwent surgery that November. But crucially, counsel said, no biopsy was carried out.

After the cancer was diagnosed in July 2008 she was referred to Beaumont Hospital, but it was too late, he said.

Ms McEneaney had to have six courses of chemotherapy but died on April 15, 2009.

Margaret Swords, general manager of the Louth/Meath Hospital Group, on behalf of the HSE and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, said they wished to apologise for shortcomings in the management and care of the late Ms McEneaney.

"As a hospital and an organisation, we fully accept that we failed Sharon, but from our progress in making the changes required you will see we are making the hospital safer for our patients," the statement said.

Ms Swords said she met with the family previously to discuss the many deficits in the care outlined in the review report which led to Sharon's delayed cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Ms Swords wanted to reiterate her previous expressions of sincere sympathy.

"I know the loss of a loved one is extremely hard for the family. However, the loss of Sharon in the circumstances as we know them is even more painful," the statement said.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine was told that two actions by Sharon's family in relation to the death and an action for nervous shock had been settled for a total of €62,500.

The judge said the family had shown "marvellous fortitude in the face of their loss".

Another sister, Tanya McEneaney, had sued the HSE on behalf of the family as a result of the medical care Sharon received and for nervous shock over her death.

It was claimed there was a gross delay of seven months in the carrying out of a guided biopsy.

It was also claimed there was a failure to have regard to the concerns and phone calls of Ms McEneaney's GP and a TD and a failure to treat her with any degree of urgency.

It was further claimed that had she been diagnosed in November 2007, she would have been appropriately treated and would have survived. The claims were denied.

In January 2012, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry in relation to the McEneaney case found consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Etop Akpan guilty of two counts of poor professional performance. It found he failed to take adequate steps to implement the plan recorded in the medical notes and he told Ms McEneaney of her malignant cancer over the telephone rather than face to face.

Irish Independent

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