News & Insights: Healthcare

Cervical Cancer Screening Controversy – Patient’s Guide

3 May 2018


CervicalCheck is the national screening programme to prevent and control cervical cancer diagnoses. The programme provides smear tests for women aged 25 – 60. CervicalCheck has an agreement with a US laboratory whereby the tests themselves are performed in Ireland, but may be analysed in the US. This controversy has come to light as a result of a case brought by Vicky Phelan, who had a test done in 2011 which was reported as all clear. She now suffers from terminal cervical cancer. It has been made clear that her initial test was falsely reported which resulted in a 3 year delay in diagnosis. Her case settled at the High Court for €2.5m.


Action taken

Over 1,480 cases of cervical cancer were notified to the CervicalCheck programme since 2008. In 442 of these cases, it was decided that a review was warranted. In 206 cases, it is reported that there was a delay in diagnosing cancer, resulting in women missing out on earlier intervention and treatment. It has since been reported that a further 1,500 patient audits will take place. Therefore there is the potential for the number of women adversely affected to increase.


Delays in diagnosis

In certain circumstances, you may be entitled to compensation if you have suffered a delayed diagnosis of cancer. In many cases, such as the Vicky Phelan case which has been widely reported, the patient’s survival prospects can be severely affected where an opportunity for earlier treatment has been missed. If you can show that earlier intervention would have led to a better outcome, you may be entitled to compensation.


Have you been affected?

If you have been notified or affected by any issue regarding a missed or delayed diagnosis of cervical cancer, it is important that you consider your legal options in full. The Government have established a Helpline and a compensation scheme for those adversely affected. However, it is imperative that you speak to an experience healthcare solicitor to ensure that you are fully and adequately compensated. Our Healthcare Team at O’Reilly Stewart specialises in medical negligence cases all over Ireland. If you want to speak to an experienced solicitor in relation to a delayed diagnosis, or any other healthcare query, please contact our Patrick Mullarkey or Kevin Hegarty.

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