SC –v- HSE

The Plaintiff, who was only 24 at the time, attended her General Practitioner in 2005 complaining of lumps and pain/tenderness in her left breast. Her GP referred her to the local Breast Clinic at the Regional Hospital where the staff carried out a physical examination of the Plaintiff, but did not carry out an ultrasound or biopsy. The Plaintiff was reassured, but continued to have concerns and returned again in October 2009 still complaining of the lump in her breast which she felt had increased in size. A physical examination was again carried out and the Plaintiff reassured that there was nothing of concern and she simply had lumpy breasts. Unfortunately no radiological imaging was carried out on this occasion either. The Plaintiff returned to the Breast Clinic a third time in March 2011 with a significant lump in her breast. An ultrasound and biopsy was carried out and she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. At that point the Cancer, which was perfectly treatable in 2005 and 2009, was no longer curable despite extensive treatment and mastectomy together with axillary clearance. As a result, the Plaintiff’s 10 year life expectancy was severely reduced with an extremely poor prognosis.

The Plaintiff obtained expert oncological and radiological opinion which criticised the failure of the Breast Clinic to carry out any radiological imaging of the Plaintiff during her attendances in 2005 and 2009 in particular ultrasound imaging. Due to the Plaintiff’s young age at the time of her presentations a mammogram would not be standard practice but, it was alleged, an ultrasound scan would have been required. This is in accordance with standard protocols in existence both in the UK and Ireland which mandate triple assessment of patients for diagnosing breast cancer:

  1. Physical examination
  2. Radiological imaging – mammogram or ultrasound
  3. Biopsy

Ultrasound on the balance of probabilities would not have detected the tumour in 2005 but would have done so in 2009 at a time when it was likely that the Plaintiff would have had a much better survival rate. 

Proceedings were issued in March 2012 and the Defence was received in late November 2012. Liability was denied by the Defendant in the Defence, and an early trial date was sought from the Court due to the Plaintiff’s condition. Following the fixing of a trial date for the beginning of March 2013, mediation was sought by both parties to the proceedings. The mediation meeting took place early in the New Year and proved to be very successful. The Plaintiff obtained a significant six figure settlement together with her legal costs only 10 months after proceedings were issued. 

If you have any further queries, please contact any of the following from our medical negligence group:

08 February 2013

    Gillian and all at Augustus Cullen Law, A million thanks for a great job done. Justice for our son at last!!

    Catherine, Liam & William

    Dear Michael, A great result was achieved because of your efforts and we were truly blessed to have you on our side.

    Kathleen, Medical Negligence Client

    Dear Joice…you are and have been very professional, sympathetic and dignified in all of your dealings with us and I put that down to one simple fact. You listened.

    James, Medical Negligence Client

    Geraldine, Thank you most sincerely for all your hard work and commitment to these children.

    Freda McKittrick, Head of Barnardos Beacon Guardian Ad Litem service

    Neil is an absolute gentleman to deal with – kind, tactful and very efficient. We could not praise him highly enough. He brought us through a horrible time.

    Sean, Medical Negligence Client

    Many thanks again for a job well done. We really appreciate all your hard work and practical advice.

    Corporate client in a commercial litigation matter

    Dear Jamie, You and your team in ACL were so professional, diligent and prompt. I have recommended you and the firm, and will continue to do so

    Lorraine McCarthy

    Gus Cullen and the firm’s approach to addressing the key issues was professional, yet personal, efficient yet attentive.


    The process is a difficult one and when you deal with people who are so professional and yet genuine/real people, it makes it so much easier... so thanks a million.


    Request a Callback