Last week, Vicky Phelan, settled her High Court action against the HSE after she was given incorrect smear test results and is now terminally ill with cervical cancer.
Breach of Trust
Speaking outside court Ms Phelan said that her case was “unforgivable” and an “appalling breach of trust”. She also stated that “There are no winners here today. I’m terminally ill and my cancer is incurable.”
Vicky Phelan’s cervical cancer misdiagnosis first came to light in 2014 following an audit of all smear tests. Separately, the same year, she underwent a second smear test which revealed she had cervical cancer. Her doctor wasn’t told about her misdiagnosis dating from 2011 until 2016, and she wasn’t informed until a further year had passed.
It is with alarm that we have now heard RTE report this morning that, an audit of the Cervical Check programme has revealed that 12 of the 206 women whose cases were pinpointed in a review have died, while around half of this number could have potentially have benefited from earlier treatment and were not told about this diagnostic delay.
Women who have been affected by this scandal have not been all notified and the HSE and Minister Harris have now said the women affected will be notified as soon as possible.
Cervical Cancer Symptoms
Women with early cervical cancers and pre-cancers usually have no symptoms.
Symptoms often do not begin until the cancer becomes invasive and spreads into nearby tissue. When this happens, the most common symptoms are:
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding after vaginal sex, bleeding after menopause, bleeding and spotting between periods, and having (menstrual) periods that are longer or heavier than usual. Bleeding after douching or after a pelvic exam may also occur.
- An unusual discharge from the vagina − the discharge may contain some blood and may occur between your periods or after menopause.
- Pain during sex.
Medical Negligence experts
We, at Lynch Solicitors, have experience in representing women in a wide range of gynaecological and cancer cases and since the breaking of this scandal Lynch Solicitors have been contacted by a number of women who have concerns about tests that they had carried under the cervical screening programme.
A number of these woman have expressed to us particular concern that they may be out of time to do anything due to the time restraints of the Statute of Limitations. In most of these cases a woman will not be out of time to bring a case due to the “date of knowledge” argument.
We have been in involved in a great number of medical negligence cases in which we successfully relied on the “date of knowledge” argument. This means that a person who receives a negligent medical procedure may not have knowledge of the injury for some time after the medical procedure. It is not until the injuries cause problems or they become aware that such problems arose as a consequence of such procedures that liability may arise. The ‘date of knowledge’ ensures that the time limit does not run out before a person knew or ought to have known that they have an injury/action.
For further advice on these issues, you can contact a member of our team on 052 612 4344 or at [email protected]
The material contained in this article is provided for general information purposes only. We advise you to seek specific advice from us about any legal decision or course of action.
Hi, I was eventually diagnoised with Cervical Cancer after having regular smear tests and a Baby . I practically had to beg my GP for a an gynae appointment which when I got the appointment huge lumps of clots came out I had to have a colposcopy straight away and to he admitted to the gynae ward where a few days later I was given the bad news that I had Caner and I would need a 7 hour surgery to remove the tumor, unfortunately the size and location of the tumor rendered it inoperable. I was given a very bleak prognoises. 2 years if treatment, more surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy. That all happened in 1988, at that time there was no one to turn to with regard to medical negligence. My daughter was 2 and a half then. I would have thought that the afterbirth would have shown up some abnormalities,?’ I would like some advice.
It all depends on the timelines involved. For someone to take action they have a two year window. However the time starts to run from when they had (or ought to have had) knowledge of the cause of the injury.