Woman terminally ill with cancer settles action over smear tests

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A 42-year old woman terminally ill with cancer who sued over the alleged misreporting of her Cervical Check smear slides has settled her High Court action.

The court previously heard the situation for the woman who cannot be named by order of the court is “really desperate.”

The woman’s counsel Patrick Treacy SC told Mr Justice Kevin Cross on Thursday the case went to mediation last week and he said it had ‘thankfully, been compromised.’

He said the settlement was against American laboratory Quest Diagnostics and the case against the HSE could be struck out.

Mr Treacy told the court last July there were serious concerns the woman wouldn’t make it even if her action against the HSE and a US laboratory was brought forward to an early September date.

On that occasion the court was told the woman who is receiving palliative care and had been told that palliative chemotherapy has not been successful.


Mr Treacy instructed by solicitor Cian O’Carroll said the woman was extremely ill and the situation was really desperate. He said her evidence may have to be taken on commission in advance of a scheduled hearing of her action but she had been so ill, it has not been possible to examine the possibility with her.

Smear tests

Last year it was indicated to the court that the woman had between nine months to eighteen months left to live.

The woman and her partner had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated.

It was claimed the woman had a cervical smear test in June 2016 under the national cervical screening programme which was tested in a Quest Diagnostics lab and came back as negative for malignancy or lesion. The woman was advised in a letter a few weeks later the smear test detected no abnormalities.

In 2018, it was further claimed she had another smear test which came back from the laboratory as negative for lesion or malignancy and in a letter in February 2019 she was told that smear test detected no abnormalities.

The woman was diagnosed in July 2019 with Stage 2 cancer and underwent chemotherapy and , radiotherapy In April this year she was diagnosed as having metastatic disease in her lungs and lymph nodes.

She claimed she was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of a timely and effective investigation and management of her condition and of the opportunity of treatment at a time when her disease she claims was amenable to curative treatment. Her life expectancy she claimed was caused to be significantly reduced and the alleged misreporting of her smear test she claimed resulted in an alleged missed opportunity to diagnose her cancer at a time when it was curable.

The defendants denied the claims.

On Thursday noting the settlement and costs against Quest Diagnostics and striking out the case against the HSE, Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was delighted the matter had settled.

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