Monday 23 October 2017

Doctors 'failed three times to diagnose my breast cancer'

Mrs Fahey was told and assured that she did not have breast cancer on three separate occasions between September 2005 and March 2007.
Mrs Fahey was told and assured that she did not have breast cancer on three separate occasions between September 2005 and March 2007.

Tim Healy

A WOMAN is suing a hospital after her breast cancer was misdiagnosed three times.

Olive Fahey (57), of Rahinch, Littleton, Thurles, Co Tipperary, had to have a mastectomy and undergo 30 sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy when she was finally correctly diagnosed to have cancer 19 months after she was first referred to hospital, the High Court heard.

"I never expected to lose my breast. For me it was devastating," she told the court.

Mrs Fahey has sued Barringtons Hospital, Limerick, where she went for treatment after she found a lump on her breast; the HSE; surgeon Paul O'Byrne; and consultant radiologist at Barringtons Alex Stafford.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan was told there was an admission of liability on behalf of all the defendants in relation to the injuries caused to Mrs Fahey but not in relation to the aggravated damages claimed.

The court heard that on three separate occasions between September 2005 and March 2007, Mrs Fahey was told and assured that she did not have breast cancer.

Her counsel Aidan Doyle told the court that, as a result of Mrs Fahey's misdiagnosis, there was a degree of alarm in Barringtons Hospital and former Health Minister Mary Harney directed an inquiry in to the services at the hospital for those with symptoms of breast disease.

An investigation was also conducted relating to the care of Mrs Fahey whose tissue samples had been sent to the pathology department at University College Hospital, Galway.

Mr Doyle said the report into Barringtons concluded there was a significant and avoidable delay in diagnosing Mrs Fahey. The Galway report found there were clear signs of malignancy in the samples sent for pathology to Galway which had come back as benign.

Invasive

She had gone to her doctor in 2005 and her GP referred her to Barringtons Hospital. On three occasions, Mrs Fahey was assured she did not have an invasive cancer, but 19 months later, the truth came out that she had all along a Grade 3 infiltrating and invasive cancer, the court was told.

Mr Doyle said the failure to diagnose Mrs Fahey in September 2005 has had catastrophic consequences in that she had to have a full mastectomy followed by 30 sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and has a debilitating and discomforting swelling of her left arm.

Mrs Fahey, he said, has been in remission for some time but she has not been able to work since.

Mrs Fahey was referred to Mr O'Byrne at Barringtons Hospital in September 2005, the court was told. He removed two lumps and sent them off to the pathology department at University College Hospital Galway.

The results from the pathologist said the lumps were benign. Mr Doyle said that this was great news, if surprising.

In 2006, Mrs Fahey definitely felt something was wrong but the consultant radiologist at Barringtons Alex Stafford after a mammogram reported that the situation was unchanged.

Counsel said Mrs Fahey was extremely pleased if puzzled but in Spring 2007 she went back to Barringtons. Mr Stafford decided after an ultra sound scan to send Mrs Fahey back to the surgeon. Mr O'Byrne carried out a fine needle procedure and sent a sample to the pathology department in Galway, where it was concluded there was no malignancy.

The surgeon, Mr O'Byrne, was surprised and arranged to have the biopsy sent to the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork for examination.

"That news was as bad as it could be," counsel said.

Three days later, Mrs Fahey had a mastectomy.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News