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'It's like a bad dream you can't wake up from... imagine it was your wife' - husband of cervical cancer sufferer Ruth Morrissey

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Ruth and Paul Morrissey pictured at the Four Courts 
Pic: Collins Courts

Ruth and Paul Morrissey pictured at the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts

CollinsPhotoAgency

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court where she is suing the HSE and laboratories
Pic: Collins Courts

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court where she is suing the HSE and laboratories Pic: Collins Courts

Collins

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Ruth and Paul Morrissey pictured at the Four Courts Pic: Collins Courts

A man whose wife has cervical cancer has told the High Court his family is enduring an extremely tough time and it is like there is a "dark cloud" over them.

Paul Morrissey was giving evidence after the court heard his wife Ruth's scan results this month are very disappointing and her prognosis remains "very guarded".

"It is like a bad dream you can't wake up from," he said. "Just imagine if it was your wife, the love of your life, it seems to be one thing after another. It is heartbreaking, terrifying and unimaginable."

Mr Justice Kevin Cross has resumed hearing the couple's action over alleged misreading of smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012.

Ms Morrissey (37) told the court she had asked about surgery after her cervical cancer recurred last year but was told that is not possible

"It is tough at home. With so much radiotherapy and chemotherapy, we thought I had a chance of getting through," she said.

Had she known in 2015 and 2016 of the results of a review in 2014 and 2015 of her smear slides, which showed her smears were reported incorrectly, she would have asked for more scans, she said.

Ms Morrissey said she was told of the review results in May 2018.

"If I had known in 2015 and 2016 I would have absolutely asked for more scans and better surveillance. If they said no, I would have gone private."

When the case re-opened on Tuesday after being adjourned last July, Jeremy Maher SC, for the couple, updated the court on Ms Morrissey's condition.

Ms Morrissey was separately diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy in November last year and her prognosis would be excellent but for the cervical cancer, he said.

Scans and an MRI this month had shown disappointing results and there was concern, despite chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the symptoms have returned. The prognosis remains “very guarded”, counsel said

The couple, of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick, have sued the HSE as well as US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd, with offices at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin and Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.

Review

It is claimed there was failure to correctly report and diagnose and alleged misinterpretation of her smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012 and that her cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

It is further claimed a review of the 2009 and 2012 smears took place in 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Ms Morrissey's treating gynaecologist in 2016.

It is claimed she was not told until May 2018 of those review results which showed  her smears were reported incorrectly.

The HSE has admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but denies it owed such a duty to her husband.

The laboratories deny all claims.

On Tuesday, Mr Maher said they were also contending, in relation to the 2012 smear, the number of cells on the slide being examined were inadequate. They were also contending, if Ms Morrissey had been told the results of the smear test reviews in late 2014 or early 2015, she would have insisted on an MRI and other scans.

“There was an opportunity to detect an occurrence of the tumour at an earlier stage.  You would have the probability of life rather than the probability of death, “ Mr Maher said.

“We are now dealing with the probability of death. If Ruth Morrissey was made aware of the facts and results of  the audits she would have insisted in an MRI and scans in 2015."

Patrick Hanratty SC, for the HSE, had objected to the widening of the case but the Morrissey side argued the HSE knew of the issue from a medical report referred to it last September.

Mr Maher said his side only became aware this month of the report indicating, had the reoccurrence of cancer been  identified in late 2015 or  2016,  it would have been small and amenable to treatment including surgery.

Mr Justice Cross ruled the case should proceed on its expanded basis. The case had to proceed and it would be grossly unfair if it did not, he said.

The case continues.

Online Editors