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Misdiagnosis of cervical cancer smear tests unacceptable - Louise O'Reilly TD

26 April, 2018 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said the emerging story around the misdiagnosis of cervical cancer smear tests and the response from CervicalCheck is completely unacceptable.

Teachta O’Reilly said: 

“The story of Vicky Phelan’s missed cervical cancer diagnosis and its subsequent escalation to terminal cervical cancer is extremely upsetting and worrying. However, what compounds this unacceptable state of affairs is the 3 years it took for Ms Phelan to be informed of the misdiagnosis.

“For Ms Phelan’s misdiagnosis to be known for almost 3 years is unacceptable; but to keep that from her until she became terminally ill and to then drag her and her family through the courts as she fought for truth demonstrates cruelty and malice.

“Added to this is it is now believed that up to 14 more women were identified in a 2014 audit of smear tests which were found to be incorrect.

“Furthermore, documents from Ms Phelan’s case showed that doctors treating women who were wrongly given the all-clear from cancer were urged to exercise their judgment on whether to tell them about the misdiagnosis.

“This is deplorable from CervicalCheck; it should not be at the whim of a doctor to exercise their judgement in whether to inform a woman where her health is at risk, and even more so in the incidence of a misdiagnosis – they have the right to know and the Minister needs to intervene to make sure this is done.

 “CervicalCheck and the HSE have a duty to inform the 14 other women affected, and they should state clearly whether or not they have been done so to date. 

“Ms Phelan’s case represents a complete failure of the system and for her to end up on the steps to the high court to get answers exposes the cruelty that often lies behind the system.

“Nobody is saying that a health service will be without human error. But when a mistake is made there should be an apology and the relevant parties informed

“It is grossly unfair for people to be left in the dark in such instances and there needs to be a more transparent process when misdiagnosis is uncovered.

“Honesty, openness, and transparency are integral to healthcare provision and the lack of these in the case of Ms Phelan has been appalling."

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