Sunday 17 December 2017

Survivor of test failure 'outraged' by latest revelations

Grainne Cunningham

A WOMAN, who was wrongly given the all-clear for breast cancer, said she was shocked last night to hear the latest revelations about systemic failures in our health system.

Rebecca O'Malley (42) a mother of three young children from Ballina, Co Tipperary went without crucial treatment for 14 months, after she was misdiagnosed for invasive breast cancer four years ago.

Speaking after it emerged that one patient at Tallaght has died as a result of a delayed diagnosis, Mrs O'Malley said the scandal was "yet another slap in the face for patients, their families and a weary public".

And commenting on the hospital's failure to review 58,000 X-rays, she said it would be hard to find words to express sufficient outrage on behalf of all of those patients, who would now possibly spend sleepless nights waiting to hear their fate.

"Who knew that there was no consultant radiology reports being produced; who should have known and why did nothing get done about it," she said.

Mrs O'Malley said there appeared to have been an extraordinary silence over the past five years amongst the medical staff at the hospital who either failed to notice that X-rays they ordered were not reported on in the appropriate way, or chose to ignore that.

"For some time now I have been calling for a law to make it mandatory to report medical errors and potentially unsafe situations to an independent body and the patient. If we had such a law, then we would not be in this shocked state tonight, because this outrageous situation would have been highlighted a long time ago," she said.

"That this horror story only came to light after a death seems to be another case of 'We won't tell anyone unless we have to'. No wonder there is a general lack of trust in the honesty and openness of our health service when something goes wrong," she added.

Mrs O'Malley said the X-ray debacle was a case of "here we go again" for those who had lost faith in the health system.


Her own diagnosis was botched after was referred to the breast cancer clinic in the Mid West Regional Hospital Limerick in 2005 for a check-up on a small lump on her breast. She was given the all-clear but when the symptoms failed to clear up, she was reexamined and required a mastectomy and a number of gruelling sessions of chemotherapy.

An independent investigation found it was a "once-off interpretative error" by a locum pathologist at Cork University Hospital. The mistake might have been picked up if triple assessment was in place.

Irish Independent

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