Friday 24 November 2017

Cancer misdiagnosis: Rebecca O’Malley receives apology from HSE as part of settlement

Tim Healy

A WOMAN has received an apology in the High Court as part of a settlement of her action for damages against the HSE over the misdiagnosis of her breast cancer.

Rebecca O'Malley, from Ballina, Co Tipperary, sued the HSE over the misdiagnosis which was only diagnosed some 14 months after she had been given the all-clear in 2005.

The mother-of-three, who is in her 40s, then had to undergo a mastectomy which it was claimed could have been avoided had the correct diagnosis been given.

Today, Liam Reidy SC, for Ms O'Malley, told Ms Justice Mary Irvine a settlement had been reached after mediation. He read an apology which stated the HSE "wish to acknowledge the fault in respect in the misdiagnosis of the plaintiff's breast cancer in March 2005."

The HSE admitted full liability and also apologised to Ms O'Malley, her husband, Tony, and their children for the continuing upset which the misdiagnosis had on her and her family, Mr Reidy added.

No details of the settlement were revealed in court.

Ms O'Malley sought damages for the effect upon her of the misdiagnosis and other related issues, as well as compensation for what she believed was a PR campaign conducted against her by the health authorities.

Last year, Mr Reidy told the court she felt this campaign had been waged because she had the courage to go public and speak out about her treatment.

In her action, it was claimed she was incorrectly given the "all-clear" following a breast biopsy undergone at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital in Limerick in March 2005 and which had been analysed at Cork University Hospital.

In March 2006, her GP referred her back to Limerick for a second biopsy because he was concerned about a persistent thickening in her breast and this test showed she had cancer.

She would have had to wait four weeks for surgery, but decided to go to London for a private mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Her counsel also told the court last year Mrs O'Malley had been a "very vocal critic" of the treatment she had received, which led to the the Department of Health setting up an inquiry.

It resulted in an official report by the Health Information Quality Authority (HIQA) which acknowledged fault on the part of the clinicians under whose care she was in.

HIQA made a series of recommendations with the aim of preventing such a potentially tragic mistake happening to other Irish women.

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