Advising with empathy and experience

1.8 million pound award follows smear test errors.

A terminally ill Irish woman has been awarded 2.1m euros (£1.8m) in damages after the alleged misreading of smear tests and the failure to tell her about it.

Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul, of Monaleen, County Limerick, sued the Health Service Executive (HSE) and two laboratories, MedLab Pathology Limited and Quest Diagnostics.

Ms Morrissey, 37, was first diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014 but the court heard she was not told until May 2018 that a review showed that two smears taken under the Cervical Check screening programme were reported incorrectly.

She claimed that if the tests in 2009 and 2012 had been correctly interpreted and reported, she could have been successfully treated and would not have developed cancer.

Ms Morrissey also claimed that if she had known about the results of the 2014 review earlier, she would have asked for more scans and better surveillance of her condition.

She was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer in February 2020 and given a prognosis of 12 to 24 months.

Mrs Morrissey told the court she did not think she would ever have been told about the review of smear tests if it had not been for the case of Vicky Phelan, who settled her action against a US laboratory a year ago.

While a number of other women have also reached settlements, this case, which ran for 35 days, is the first of its kind to have been heard in full and to be considered in a High Court judgment.

Mrs Morrissey, who has a young daughter, told the court she did not want to die.

The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Mrs Morrissey. The laboratories denied all the claims.

The presiding judge, Mr Justice Kevin Cross, said that Mrs Morrissey's life had been ruined and she had suffered a life sentence.

In his judgment, Justice Cross found that the laboratory which tested Mrs Morrissey's 2009-smear slide was negligent.

He found that the second laboratory, which tested her 2012 slide, was not negligent, but he said that her test should have been redone.

The judge said that, if Ms Morrissey’s slides been properly analysed in 2009, or had the 2012 slide deemed inadequate, then she would have been reviewed within one to three months.

He said she would probably have been retested and, as a matter of probability, the slides would have been abnormal and she would have undergone treatment.

The judge said: "She would never have contracted cancer. She would have been spared the pain and distress of what followed. She would not have suffered all her pain and distress that she has undergone so far.

"She would not have been left in the knowledge that she has only, at most, two years to live."

Speaking outside the court, Mrs Morrissey said: ""I would encourage every woman to continue on getting their smears because it's very important, even though it failed me. But it does save many, many lives. The HPV vaccine, if you're eligible please get it. This is not a cancer that you want."