Tuesday 16 July 2019

Legal action taken by CervicalCheck campaigner Orla Church settled, High Court told days after her death

Campaigner: Orla Church had a rare form of cervical cancer
Campaigner: Orla Church had a rare form of cervical cancer

Tim Healy

A High Court action taken by a woman with cervical cancer who died last week has been settled.

The family of 54-year-old Orla Church were in the High Court today as Mr Justice Kevin Cross was told the case was settled.

Ms Church (54), who died on January 19, was the 21st woman to die arising out of the CervicalCheck smear tests controversy.

Richard Kean SC told the court Ms Church’s father, Charles Church, along with the deceased woman’s sister were in court.

Orla Church (54) was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.
Orla Church (54) was among the 221 women who allegedly received wrong smear test results.

Counsel said it had not been possible to proceed with mediation in the case as had been indicated to the court when it was last mentioned before the judge just days before Ms Church died.

My Kean said it had been possible to take instructions to a settlement of Ms Church’s case.

Counsel said the Church family wanted to thank the court and court registrar Grainne O’Loughlin for expediting the matter.

Noting the settlement, Mr Justice Cross offered his sympathy to Mr Church and his family on their loss. The judge also congratulated the legal teams on all sides for reaching a settlement. He said if anybody had delayed it it would never have been settled.

Ms Church had sued over the alleged misinterpretation of her CervicalCheck smears.

Orla Church, of Elm Mount Avenue in Beaumont, Dublin had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnositcs Incorporated of Delaware.

Quest Diagnostics had provided cervical cytopathology laboratories and services to the HSE as part of the ChervicalCheck screening programme for Irish women.

It was claimed Ms Church had a smear test in September 2011 which was sent to a laboratory operated by Quest Diagnositcs. The report back from the laboratory after testing the sample said no abnormality was detected and recommended routine screening.

In September 2014, Ms Church had another smear test as part of her routine screening, and the laboratory report this time showed no abnormalities and advised normal recall.

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

Ms Church's two smear tests were reviewed and it was alleged the results were amended in both cases.

It was 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 was further claimed that following a review by an independent external pathologist in March 2017 that both smear test results were changed from the original negative cateogry.

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

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

In September 2017, she suffered a deterioration on her health and was advised in May 2018 there was a recurrence of her cancer, with secondary tumours in her kidneys.

It was claimed there was an alleged failure to diagnose 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 was claimed upon discovering she was suffering from cervical cancer Ms Church suffered profound shock, distress and upset.

All claims were denied by the defendants.

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