An delayed diagnosis compensation settlement of €2.5m against a US laboratory has been made to Mrs Vicky Phelan, a terminally-ill mother of two from Annacotty, Co Limerick, who was wrongly advised that she did not have cancer in 2011.
In January 2017 Mrs Phelan was told that she has less than one year to live. This was after she had been advised, in 2011, that there were no abnormalities present in the smear sample tested at to Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc. in Austin, Texas. Sadly, in her next smear test completed in 2014 cervical cancer was now detected. Clinical Patholhy Laboratories found, during a review in 2014, that the 2011 smear test results had been incorrect. Despite this, Mrs Phelan was only made aware of this error in 2017.
Mrs Phelan’s legal team pointed out. in her High Court action which started last week, that if the cervical cancer had been detected in 2011 she (Mrs Phelan) would have had a regular procedure that would have given her a 90% chance of survival.
The legal action against the Health Service Executive was struck out and as the misdiagnosis compensation settlement was made in relation to the testing company Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas only, with no admission of liability.
In the aftermath of award being announced Mrs Phelan stated that a thorough inquiry into the CervicalCheck screening programme should be initiated.
She said: “To know for almost three years a mistake had been made and I was misdiagnosed was bad enough but to keep that from me until I became terminally ill and to drag me through the courts to fight for my right to the truth is an appalling breach of trust and I truly hope some good will come of this case and there will be an investigation in the CervicalCheck programme as a result of this.”
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said he was satisfied with that approval and he praised the legal teams for completing the compensation action, was only begun in February 2017, to court as swiftly as they had. He also said that Vicky Phelan is one of the most impressive witnesses that has come before him in court.
Mrs Phelan has recently started treatment with a new drug and hopes to be accepted on to a US programme providing innovative treatment, So far she has raised €200,000 via a Go Fund Me page. Justice Cross said he believed that if anyone could beat this it is Mrs Phelan.