Woman with terminal cancer alleges misreporting of cervical smear, court hears
Posted on 28th February 2022 at 21:37
High Court asked to fix early hearing date for legal action given woman’s life expectancy
A woman with terminal cancer wants an early hearing of her legal action over the alleged misreporting of her cervical smear test, the High Court has heard.
The woman, who cannot be named by order of the court, has opted not to have palliative chemotherapy and “can expect death in a very short period of time’, her counsel told the court.
Jeremy Maher SC, instructed by Cian O’Carroll, told Mr Justice Paul Coffey the woman now has Stage 4 cancer and a “very limited life expectancy”.
She has sued the HSE over a smear test taken under the CervicalCheck national screening programme.
It is claimed that in November 2016 she had a smear test which came back as negative. In June 2019 she was diagnosed as having invasive cervical cancer, and she underwent a radical hysterectomy as well as other procedures.
In May last year, the woman was diagnosed as having suffered a recurrence of cancer.
It is claimed there was a failure to correctly report on the 2016 smear test and the woman’s cancer was allegedly allowed to develop and spread unidentified, unmonitored, and untreated until she was diagnosed in June 2019.
She was deprived of the opportunity of treatment at a time when her disease was amenable to curative treatment, it is further claimed. Had the 2016 smear test been correctly reported she could have had a surgical procedure and the lesion excised, the woman alleges.
All of the claims are denied.
The woman’s husband has also brought a case against the HSE claiming for alleged nervous shock, profound stress and distress.
Mr Maher SC told the court his side contended there was a 32-month delay in treatment for the woman and she “can expect death in a short period of time.”
Previously, she had been given a life expectancy of six to nine months but she has since decided not to have palliative chemotherapy.
He asked for a trial date on March 30th next and for the case to be specially fixed in the list. While the case had only begun in mid-February, this reflected the gravity of the woman’s situation.
Counsel for the HSE, Eileen Barrington SC, said her side was happy the case was being case managed and they would be happy to agree on a date but she said they thought it was too soon to fix a trial date.
Mr Justice Coffey said the court has an obligation to accommodate the woman with an early date for the trial of her “deserving case”.
The judge provisionally set the date of the hearing for the end of next month.
He said the onus was on both sides to try to facilitate the March 30th date.
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