CervicalCheck Controversy: Surge in New Legal Cases

Fourteen more women take action over cancer screening programme claims

Vicky and Jim Phelan with solicitor Cian O’Carroll in April, following the announcement of Ms Phelan’s High Court settlement. Photograph: Collins Courts

Fourteen new cases involving women affected by the CervicalCheck cancer screening controversy have been lodged in the High Court over the past month.

Court records show a surge in the number of cases as women who received false negative smear tests lodge claims.

In most cases, they allege that missed cancer warnings or quicker detections could have resulted in earlier medical intervention and the women avoiding unnecessary and, in some cases, life-changing surgeries.

The legal proceedings have been filed against the two US-owned laboratories, Medlab Pathology and Quest Diagnostics, that carry out testing for the CervicalCheck national screening programme.

Nine of the new cases have been taken by Co Tipperary solicitor Cian O’Carroll, who handled the case taken by Limerick woman Vicky Phelan. Her High Court settlement in April led to the disclosure that the screening programme had failed to tell scores of women diagnosed with cervical cancer about incorrect smear tests prior to their diagnosis.

Most, if not all, of the women behind the new cases are among the 221 that the HSE has identified as having received incorrect tests in the past, as revealed in subsequent clinical audits.

“The common thread in the cases is that there is an expert who has given an opinion that the women had one or more prior smear tests that were significantly under-reported,” said Mr O’Carroll.

“The only question is whether the degree of the under-reporting amounts to a breach of duty in law, and it is on that basis that we have brought legal proceedings.”

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