Tuesday 18 December 2018

Woman (37) refused discovery of cervical smear documents

Limerick mother Ruth Morrissey had to take her case to the High Court. Photo: Collins
Limerick mother Ruth Morrissey had to take her case to the High Court. Photo: Collins

Tim Healy

A woman suing over alleged misinterpretation of her cervical smears has been refused discovery of certain documents relating to CervicalCheck screening in advance of her High Court action.

Ruth Morrissey's lawyers sought disclosure of documents including all instructions and advice given to the HSE in relation to the circulation of the results of smear tests audits and all instructions to treating doctors on the communication of the audit results to the women affected.

Key communications between the HSE and the US laboratories who carried out the smear tests under the CervicalCheck Screening programme about quality assurance standards were also sought.

Mr Justice Cross accepted the HSE submissions the categories sought were not relevant or necessary.

He also accepted the contention on behalf of the laboratories that quality assurances in general in relation to all smear samples is not going to be relevant.

The categories sought  were too wide and not relevant, he said.

He gave Ms Morrissey's legal team time to consider whether to ask for more limited discovery.

Ms Morrissey (37) 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.

The case is due to resume before the High Court at the end of January.

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

A situation, it is claimed, developed where Ms Morrissey’s 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, but she was not told until May this year of those review results which showed her smears were reported incorrectly.

The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey, but not to her husband. It also admits the results of her smear reviews should have been made known to Ms Morrissey.

The laboratories deny all claims.

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