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Woman's anguish over cancer gene blunder as hospital begins review


Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin

Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin

Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin

A seriously ill woman has spoken of her torment after being wrongly told she did not have a faulty "cancer gene".

The woman, who was incorrectly informed that she had tested negative for the BRCA1 gene in 2009, is now in "a grave situation" fighting ovarian cancer.

She has been left upset at the failure of Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, to issue a personal apology for the potentially life-threatening blunder.

The department of clinical genetics, based at the hospital, which tests for inherited family diseases, blamed a "transcription error" for the mistake.

Her test was analysed at a laboratory in the UK, where it was correctly read as positive, but a senior official at the Dublin hospital wrote in a letter that the result was negative.

It is believed the woman was informed just last month about the correct result. Her case has triggered a review of thousands of positive BRCA1 and BRCA2 test results since 2008. A senior official is on leave.

Caoimhe Haughey, solicitor for the woman, said last night that her client was very upset and angry at the hospital.

"Nothing, absolutely nothing, has been communicated directly to this lady by the hospital," she said.

Her client had received no explanation and no apology.


Earlier, the group that runs the hospital issued a statement reassuring other patients who had undergone testing.

"All facts in this incident currently point to the fact that a transcription error of a genetic test result occurred," a spokeswoman for the Children's Hospital Group said.

"This is currently considered to be an isolated incident caused by human error. This fact has been communicated to the woman involved through her treating clinician.

"As a precautionary measure, a review by Our Lady's Children's Hospital is currently under way of all transcriptions of BRCA tests to ensure test results were transcribed correctly and that no similar transcription error has occurred.

"We want to offer reassurance to other patients who have undergone testing that this is not a testing error and therefore there is no cause for concern or distress."

However, Ms Haughey said the woman was calling for a wider review.

"She wants answers - why did this happen to her?" she said.

"Not one person from the hospital has contacted this lady to date, adding insult to injury.

"This lady also wants to send out a very sincere and important message to other women and families who have undergone genetic testing at the hospital over the last 10 years, and that is to contact your doctor and demand a full review of your chart immediately."

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Simon Harris said he had been assured that the error would not be repeated. The woman is due to meet with senior officials from the hospital.