Unfortunately the misdiagnosis of cancer is not uncommon, and indeed Augustus Cullen Law has successfully brought litigation and settled many cases in respect of such claims. Nonetheless, a formal inquiry into the failures of the CervicalCheck screening programme is expected to be carried out, in light of concerns which came to the forefront after Ms Vicky Phelan was awarded a settlement of €2.5m on 25th April 2018, in a case against the HSE and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc., Austin, Texas, USA.
Ms Phelan had a smear test carried out in 2011 and was told that the results showed no abnormalities. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in July 2014. A review was carried out in 2014 of previous smear tests from women who were subsequently diagnosed with cancer. Ms Phelan was not informed of this review or any results thereof until September 2017, at which time she was advised that the 2011 smear test results had been abnormal. It was argued on behalf of Ms Phelan that, had her cancer been detected in 2011, a simple procedure could have been carried out, which would have had very high chance of success.
Figures released in the wake of Ms Phelan’s case indicated that a review was warranted in over 400 cases and from these, more than 200 reviews suggested a different result which demanded earlier intervention. Furthermore, it has been reported that that more than two thirds of these women were not informed of the delayed diagnosis.
A full inquiry is expected to be carried out into the CervicalCheck screening programme, the outsourcing of laboratory testing and the issues surrounding the duty of candour and communication between practitioners and patients.
If you would like any further advice or information in relation to this topic please contact our Medical Negligence Department.
30 April 2018