Tag Archives: Cian O’Carroll

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul outside the High Court last month

Yesterday, Susan Mitchell, in the Sunday Business Post, reported that the State Claims Agency is to appeal the recent High Court judgment in favour of terminally ill mum Ruth Morrissey who has cervical cancer.

Last night, a statement released by Ms Morrissey’s solicitor Cian O’Carroll, on behalf of her and her husband Paul, said the first Ms Morrissey came to know about this pending appeal was the Sunday Business Post report.

Ruth and Paul Morrissey were awarded €2.1million damages last month over the misreading of  smear tests and the failure to tell her about it.

Ms Morrissey claimed that if her smear tests in 2009 and 2012 had been correctly reported, she could have been successfully treated and not developed terminal cancer.

The State Claims Agency has said it is appealing the judgment and focussed on “a number of important legal points that may have significant implications for the State” but not the award of €2.1million to the couple.

Mr O’Carroll told Newstalk this morning that Ms Morrissey is “terribly upset” about the appeal.

State set to appeal landmark Morrissey CervicalCheck case (Susan Mitchell, Sunday Business Post)

Previously: ‘I Didn’t Think I’d Be In This Position’


Limerick mother-of-two Vicky Phelan, who settled a case against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, for €2.5million last year, has tweeted her thoughts on news of the appeal.

Ms Phelan, who refused to sign a gagging order about her case, was diagnosed with terminal cancer following a cervical smear test error.

Following her case, it later emerged that more than 200 women diagnosed with cancer were not informed of an audit which revised their earlier, negative smear tests.

Ms Phelan tweeted:

Previously: Vicky Phelan on Broadsheet

Emma Mhic Mathúna with her solicitor Cian O’Carroll at the High Court in June

This morning.

Following the death of mother-of-five and cervical cancer victim Emma Mhic Mhathúna, 37.

Emma’s solicitor Cian O’Carroll spoke to Seán O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One.

In June, Emma sued both the HSE and the US laboratory which studied her smear tests, Quest Diagnostics, and agreed a settlement of €7.5 million.

Quest Diagnostics misread her two smear slides in 2010 and 2013 and she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016.

Some 221 women have been affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

Further to this.

Mr O’Carroll has asked why all of the errors haven’t been investigated.

He told Mr O’Rourke:

If you wanted to have a confidence in a laboratory, you must know that each error is investigated. And we’ve spoken to cervical screening experts around the world involved in Canada, Finland, New Zealand and the UK.

And they have all said to us here that it is essential that whenever a single critical error occurs that it’s investigated within the laboratory and that involves debriefing the person who made the error and finding out what caused it.

And that has never been done.

[Emma] was adamant all the way through that she wanted accountability. She was adamant all the way through that errors must be stopped. She said that so much money had to be paid by the laboratory would hopefully make them be more careful in future with screening.

But the State, the National Screening Service, has a primary obligation and, under the contract, they have the right to send in HIQA to investigate why those errors happened in those laboratories and they have an obligation to do it under normal standards of public health and public safety.

They haven’t done it.

…If you are going to have an analytical process, a scientific process within a laboratory – that must be investigated by a suitable set of cytologists who go in and that’s what HIQA do.

And I’m left wondering why is the HSE and the NSF so bent on avoiding the laboratory issue?

Why are they so determined to constantly refer to, as the minister again did yesterday, Minister Harris, spoke about Emma’s death in the context of the non-disclosure?

And didn’t acknowledge that non-disclosure did not kill that woman, failures in a laboratory in 2010 and 2013 did.

And it is inexcusable that today, following her death, there is still not a clear and determined statement from the State saying we will investigate why those slides and so many hundreds of others were critically misread in those laboratories.

In the US and in Ireland, it just so happens that Emma’s two errors were in the same laboratory Quest Diagnostics in New Jersey.

Listen back in full here

Vicky Phelan, her husband Jim and her solicitor Cian O’Carroll (in background)

Earlier this morning.

On RTÉ One’s Today With Seán O’Rourke.

Solicitor Cian O’Carroll, who represented Limerick mum-of-two Vicky Phelan in her recent High Court action, said he doesn’t trust the HSE’s position that just 206 women who developed cervical cancer after having a misdiagnosed smear test should have received earlier intervention.

Mr O’Carroll explained he cannot trust the figure because it was reached by the very same company that gave the wrong test results in the first place.

Readers will recall Ms Phelan was awarded €2.5 million in a settlement against Clinical Pathology Laboratories in Austin, Texas – which receives outsourced smear tests from Ireland – last week.

She was given a false negative smear test in 2011 and subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.

She was only informed of the 2011 misdiagnosis last year.

Ms Phelan now has terminal cancer.

During Today with Seán O’Rourke, Mr O’Carroll was asked what type of inquiry should be held into the matter.

He said:

“HIQA [Health Information and Quality Authority] is geared towards clinical standards and if the focus of this investigation is solely around clinical standards, that would be wrong.

“Because what’s happened here is well beyond that.

“This has got to do with corporate governance within Cervical Check, the HSE and the Department of Health.

We have to find out why a direction was given to deceive the families of women who are dead and to deceive women who are now gravely ill. That was clearly done deliberately, having consciously considered what the plan would be to inform clinicians as to what they would do next and that’s clear from the correspondence we’ve seen and, of course, that letter from July 2016. I think an inquiry has to look at, first of all, the quality issue.

“What were the quality standards? Were they acceptable, benchmarked against international expected standards for cervical screening?

“That is a clinical governance issue.

Secondly, there must be an inquiry, whether it’s part of that or by a separate agency, looking at the cover-up.

Who was responsible? Who knew?

“And thirdly, related to Vicky Phelan, why is it that her case was fought so vigorously, even when the minister [for health Simon Harris] himself was informed about this case two or three days before it began?

What was it about this case that they were so determined that she would be forced into a confidentiality clause that, through her courage, she ultimately defeated them on.

“Clearly, people in office knew that this case was going to cause serious trouble for people, in Cervical Check, the HSE and the Department of Health – enormous efforts and energy were put into forcing her to remain silent.”

“There are a lot of people out there who are very worried and a lot of people who feel, from their own experience, they’re telling a story that’s remarkably like Vicky Phelan’s and I think that’s why people are making contact [with him].

They can see that they’ve had a diagnosis of cervical cancer after a history of clear smears.

“They haven’t been notified by anybody about a clinical audit. Now they’re expecting a telephone call.

“I wonder will they all get a phone call? Because I don’t trust this 206 figure.

“Remember the 206 cases – that ultimately comes from an analysis of cases performed by Med Lab which is the organisation that performed the screening of the smears in the first place.

So Cervical Check thought it was appropriate to have the clinical audit and lookback performed by the very people who had done such an appalling job at reading the smears in the first place.

I would have thought that the 1,480 or so cases, that were identified, of women who had diagnosis or cervical cancer, following a clear smear – all 1,480 of those cases will have to be taken out and examined independently by cytologists.

That’s not such an enormous task as it sounds – each slide, as I understand it, would take about five minutes to be correctly viewed and then reported on thereafter.

“But that’s the only way that it’s going to be, that trust for these figures will emerge.

“Because you cannot have a system where an organisation, no matter how conscientious they may be, clearly, there is a risk that their reporting would tend to way from liability against themselves.”

[To clarify, Med Lab did not carry out Ms Phelan’s original screening in 2011. This was performed by Clinical Pathology Laboratories in Austin Texas – whom Ms Phelan settled her High Court action against for €2.5 million last week. However, Med Lab and Clinical Pathology Laboratories are sister companies and have the same parent company, Sonic Healthcare.]

Listen back in full here

Earlier: HSE Boss ‘Dismissed My Concerns’ About Cervical Screening Results