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Breast cancer sufferer claims delay in diagnosis and 'tragic' surgery error


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A woman who has breast cancer has brought a High Court action over the care she received at two hospitals.

Joan O'Sullivan (50), who has a mutation gene which means she is at higher risk of cancer, claimed she had suffered an alleged delay in the diagnosis and treatment of her cancer and as a result her life expectancy may have been reduced.

She has sued St James's Hospital claiming she suffered an alleged perforation to her bowel during an operation in 2013, which was part of a cancer preventative plan.

She has also sued the HSE over her care at Cork University Hospital (CUH), where she claims an 8mm tumour in her right breast was not diagnosed when she had a scan in 2016 and when the tumour was diagnosed 522 days later it was 3cm in size.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna was told Ms O'Sullivan has since had 20 weeks of chemotherapy and has had a right-sided mastectomy.

Ms O'Sullivan, of McDonagh Court, Cashel, Co Tipperary, in her claim against St James's in relation to the 2013 procedure, claims there was an alleged failure to exercise reasonable care and skill.

She has also sued the HSE claiming there was an alleged failure to identify a significant abnormality in an MRI scan carried out in CUH in April 2016 and there was an allegedly delayed diagnosis of triple negative breast cancer in her right breast. St James's and the HSE deny claims.

The court was told, however, the HSE this week admitted a breach of duty in relation to some of the care at CUH.

Her counsel, Patrick Treacy, told the court Ms O'Sullivan was diagnosed as a carrier of the BRCA1 mutation gene.

Counsel said it was decided Ms O'Sullivan would have a procedure on March 6, 2013, to remove her ovaries and fallopian tubes and a double mastectomy was expected to be carried out in autumn 2013. Counsel said on March 6 "tragically and unfortunately" a profound error was made and it was their case that an alleged perforation of Ms O'Sullivan's bowel took place during the suturing.

Mr Treacy said Ms O'Sullivan's plans for a double mastectomy were derailed as she had abdominal pain and was suffering from post-traumatic stress. She was advised she had sepsis and E coli and she had to have another operation.

On October 19, 2017 she was diagnosed with cancer in the right breast.

Counsel said if she had had a mastectomy, she would never have developed the two lumps in her right breast.

Irish Independent