Wednesday 18 July 2018

'Get checked, kick, scream, do what you have to do' - husband of woman who was misdiagnosed three times

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.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

THE husband of a woman whose breast cancer was misdiagnosed three times has urged those worried about their smear test results to "go back, get checked, kick, scream, do what you have to do".

Olive Fahey's breast cancer was misdiagnosed three times in less than two years. She had to undergo a mastectomy 19 months after the first diagnosis when an invasive cancer was finally discovered.

In October 2012, Mrs Fahey received a settlement from the HSE in aggravated damages action as a result of the misdiagnosis after she was referred to Barrington's Hospital, Limerick.

An apology from the HSE was also read out in the High Court as part of Mrs Fahey's settlement.

Speaking to RTE's Liveline today, her husband Michael said he was disappointed to see more women suffering due to misdiagnoses.

"We had to have a go at the State because we didn't want anyone else to go through that again," he said.

"I'm extremely disappointed with the health service. How many women are out there worrying today, not knowing now what's coming down the road to them?"

Mr Fahey said Olive was lucky to get treatment from a "superb" doctor in Limerick who got her back on track. Unfortunately the breast cancer has returned but the family are "dealing with it".

Mr Fahey said going to the High Court had been an ordeal for the family but they were determined to get answers.

"There is enough paperwork here to go from Dublin to Cork. It  was one big wrangle the whole way through trying to get answers. That went on for a long, long time.

"You're working for the person you're with and you have to put on that face and go through it but it's not easy.

"I never really thought about it until it was all over but we could have lost everything. Wee were so wrapped up in trying to keep her going and motivated to keep going that we didn't think of it."

The High 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.

An infiltrating invasive cancer was finally discovered in 2007 in a case which sparked a review of the breast cancer services at the Limerick Hospital.

Mrs Fahey also had to undergo 30 sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy when her cancer was finally diagnosed correctly.

Mrs Fahey's case sparked of two investigations- an inquiry ordered by Health Minister at the time, Mary Harney, in to the breast cancer services at Barringtons Hospital and also an investigation in to the care of Mrs Fahey whose tissue samples had been sent to the pathology department at University College Hospital, Galway.

The report in to 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.

"We were told 10 years ago it would never happen again," Mr Fahey told Liveline.

Mr Fahey advised women who are worried about their smear test results to: "get out there, go back, get checked, kick, scream do what you have to do."

He added, "remember one thing: this is your life and you only have one life, do what you have to do."

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