Wednesday 24 July 2019

HSE admitted failures on death of Antoinette (35) after mother's two-year fight

Sheelagh Mullany holds a picture of her daughter Antoinette, who died from ovarian cancer.
Sheelagh Mullany holds a picture of her daughter Antoinette, who died from ovarian cancer.
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The HSE wrote an apology letter to the parents of a young teacher who died after suffering ovarian cancer - admitting it had "failed to make a correct diagnosis".

Antoinette Mullany (35) died in July 2012, several months after she presented to her GP and then to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, in pain.

Antoinette's stomach was bloated and by the time she was taken to A&E in the summer of 2011 she was, her mother said, in "excruciating pain".

But Sheelagh Mullany (80), a retired teacher, claims her daughter was initially told by a GP to exercise. And later, in hospital, Antoinette was told she was suffering endometriosis, Ms Mullany claimed.

In the HSE letter, dated October 13, 2014, Group General Manager of the Louth Meath Hospital Group, Margaret Swords, made an admission, that Antoinette hadn't received the best care possible. "From my perspective, the main purpose of our meeting was to acknowledge to you that this hospital failed to make a correct diagnosis in relation to your beloved daughter, Antoinette, and failed to transfer her sooner to another hospital that could have made the diagnosis of ovarian cancer earlier.

"This undoubtedly adversely affected her opportunity for different treatment options.

"On behalf of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, I wish to unreservedly apologise to you for this failure.

"I was very moved by your courage and determination and it was a privilege to spend time with you both [Mr and Ms Mullany]."

The admission - which led to a settlement made after a mediation process - only came after Ms Mullany spent two years researching her daughter's symptoms, treatment and death. She had compiled a dossier which she took to solicitors in a bid to fight for the truth.

"This was never about money," Ms Mullany said.

"I wanted the truth out there.

"Antoinette was my youngest daughter, she was absolutely beautiful and so intelligent. She was let down by the system, wrongly diagnosed, which led to delays," she said.

Mrs Mullany's legal representative said that the HSE admitted liability but raised the issue that the case was statute barred, the case was settled through mediation. A spokesperson for the HSE said that they do not comment on individual cases. Ms Mullany and Antoinette's father Michael wanted to highlight the case to show that the cervical smear tests scandal is not an isolated incident.

"If you feel something isn't right, get checked and if you don't feel that's right, get a second opinion."

Irish Independent

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