Wednesday 21 August 2019

CervicalCheck campaigner Stephen Teap sues US lab over wife's death

Tragedy: Irene Teap died after cervical cancer spread to her liver and lungs
Tragedy: Irene Teap died after cervical cancer spread to her liver and lungs
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

CervicalCheck campaigner Stephen Teap, whose wife Irene died of cervical cancer last year, is taking legal action against the United States laboratory where her smear tests were read.

The Cork father of two young boys confirmed yesterday he has lodged proceedings against the HSE, Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL) and Medlab Pathology Limited.

Irene Teap (35) was first diagnosed with stage-two cervical cancer in 2015 and the disease tragically spread to her liver and lungs.

She received two false negative tests in 2010 and 2013.

Her slides were included in a look-back audit of smear tests by CervicalCheck and it found that there were abnormalities in both of those slides.

But Mr Teap, who has become one of the most high-profile activists since the CervicalCheck scandal broke, was not told about the audit results until 10 months after her death following the Vicky Phelan High Court case.

Campaigner: Stephen Teap. Photo: Gareth Chaney
Campaigner: Stephen Teap. Photo: Gareth Chaney

A report by Dr Gabriel Scally recently confirmed that CPL, which was contracted by CervicalCheck to read slides from Ireland in its Austin lab, had outsourced some work to other sites around the US.

"I have Irene's result at home, it says Austin, Texas on it, as does every single other woman's results that got their slides done through CPL. But the problem is, we don't know where they were read," Mr Teap said.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that 115 cases have now been lodged against CervicalCheck.

Health Minister Simon Harris said there are a number of ongoing cases involving the programme.

"There are currently 115 claims under active management by the State Claims Agency which relate to allegations of misdiagnosis in relation to the National Screening Service - CervicalCheck programme," he said.

Mr Harris, who was replying to Fianna Fáil TD Michael McGrath, said he was not able to say the award levels paid out because of the low number of claims.

The State Claims Agency is unable to publish this figure as it could lead to the identification of an individual, he added.

He said that legal costs payments amounting to €781,811 in relation to these cases have been made so far.

A large number of claims are expected to be put through a special tribunal which is to be set up later this year to hear cases.

Women can have their case heard in private but the standard of proof is the same as in a High Court and they will have to support the claim of alleged negligence.

An award can be made on the same basis as an award of the High Court. A woman, or next of kin in the case of bereaved, has 21 days from the making of the award to accept or reject the award or to appeal it to the High Court.

Irish Independent

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