Tuesday 26 March 2019

Terminally ill cancer sufferer Ruth Morrissey to be cross-examined in High Court

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

Tim Healy

Ruth Morrissey, who is terminally ill with cervical cancer, will have to return to the witness box at the High Court in the coming weeks.

Mrs Morrissey, who began her legal action last July  against the HSE and two US laboratories over the alleged misreading of two of her cervical smear slides taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme, is to be cross examined by lawyers for the HSE.

The 37-year-old woman, who has at maximum two years to live, has already given evidence twice in July and at the start of her resumed action two weeks ago.

On Friday, Patrick Hanratty SC, for the HSE, said it will be necessary to recall Ms Morrissey to court on the issue of alleged medical negligence.

The move came as the court was told the young mother is very concerned about potential delays in her long-running action.

Her resumed action has taken evidence over 11 days having adjourned last July after hearing four days of evidence.

Jeremy Maher SC, for Ms Morrissey, said their instructions were that Ms Morrissey was very concerned about the potential delays in the defendant's case.

Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he did not want gaps between witnesses or the  “ping-pong” of expert reports and witnesses between the sides as the case moves in to its third week at resumed hearing.

The judge said the case, which had initially been fast-tracked, was now proceeding at  the slow speed of  a tram”.

The judge, after hearing submissions, ruled he was not going to allow Quest Diagnostics to bring in another expert witness in the case.

Earlier cytotechnologist  Sandra Tan from the US, who reviewed the 2009 and 2012 Morrissey slides last year, told the court  when  she reviewed the 2009 Quest Diagnostics slide at ten times magnification, it took her 15 seconds to find abnormality.

She said there was a large abnormal group of cells. Her conclusion, she said was it was abnormal and should have been passed on to the pathologist.  In another examination of the slide in September 2018, she said she made the same findings.

Referring to Ms Morrissey’s 2012 MedLab slide, she said  there were enough atypical cells that it should have been  passed on to a pathologist for review.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick  have sued the HSE and the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd with offices at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin along with Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.

It is claimed there was a failure to correctly report and diagnose and there was a misinterpretation of her  smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012

The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey. The laboratories deny all claims.

The case resumes on Tuesday.

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