Monday 22 July 2019

Cancer patient suing over CervicalCheck smear tests agrees to have mediation talks

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Stock picture

Tim Healy

A 55-year-old Dublin woman with cancer who is suing over the alleged misinterpretation of her CervicalCheck smears has agreed to mediation talks in her legal action.

The High Court was told that the mediation talks will take place tomorrow between the legal teams that are representing Orla Church and the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics.

The case will be mentioned again next week when the court will hear if the talks have been successful.

The court was told that the HSE had suggested the mediation.

Ms Church, of Elm Mount Avenue, Beaumont, has sued the HSE and Quest Diagnostics Incorporated, of Delaware in the United States, which provided cervical cytopathology laboratories and services to the HSE as part of the CervicalCheck screening programme for Irish women.

It is claimed Ms Church had a smear test in September 2011, which was sent to a laboratory operated by Quest Diagnostics.

The report back from the laboratory after testing the sample said that no abnormality had been detected.

It recommended routine screening.

In September 2014, Ms Church had another smear test as part of her routine screening.

The laboratory report this time showed no abnormalities and advised normal recall.

Ms Church, it is claimed, was referred to hospital in December 2015 with pelvic pain and was later diagnosed with cervical cancer, with a tumour of more than 4cm showing up in a scan.

The 55-year-old's two smear tests were reviewed and it is alleged that the results were amended in both cases.

It is claimed that on review, no change was made to the reporting of the 2011 smear test.

But a change was made to the 2014 smear test result.

It is further claimed that following reviews, including one by an independent external pathologist in March 2017, both smear test results were changed from the original negative category.

Ms Church alleges the reporting by the Quest Diagnostics laboratory allegedly led to a false negative result both in September 2011 and in September 2014.

She said that there was no intervention in her condition until after May 2016, when she underwent treatment.

In September 2017, she suffered a deterioration in her health.

She was advised in May 2018 that there was a recurrence of her cancer, with secondary tumours in her kidneys.

It is claimed her prognosis is extremely poor.

It is alleged that there was a failure to diagnose, or a misinterpretation, and an alleged failure to refer her to the proper and appropriate specialists for the purpose of the prompt investigation monitoring or early diagnosis.

It is claimed upon discovering that she was suffering from cervical cancer, Ms Church suffered profound shock, distress and upset.

All claims are denied by the defendants.

Irish Independent

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