€2.5m settlement for terminally-ill woman whose cancer was missed


Mrs Phelan was recently awarded €2.5m in a High Court action against a United States laboratory, after being given the wrong smear test results, leading to a delay in her cancer diagnosis.

The 206 women whose smear tests were misread should have been referred on for further investigation, including an invasive diagnostic procedure or repeat smear, which could have picked up their cancer and led to earlier treatment.

Responding to the controversy, the Irish Cancer Society extended its sincerest sympathies to Ms Phelan and her family.

Ms Phelan, of Carrigeen, Annacotty, Co Limerick along with her husband Jim Phelan has sued the Health Service Executive and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, over a smear test taken under the National Cervical Screening Programme CervicalCheck and analysed in the USA laboratory.

Following the news of the incorrect test results, a new helpline has been set up to reassure women who believe they might have been at risk. Her doctor was not told until 2016.

Jolene McElhinney of McElhinney and Associates says she is handling the cases of two women in Donegal in very similar situations to that of Limerick woman, Vicky Phelan.

Asked if any of the women had died, she said: "This is not information kept by CervicalCheck".

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In 2011, Vicky Phelan was told there were no abnormalities found in the smear sample sent to Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc.in Austin, Texas.

In January, she was given between six and twelve months to live and she, along with her husband Jim, sued the lab and the HSE.

It was amid revelations that more than 200 reviews of tests suggested women with cervical cancer should have received "earlier intervention".

Ms Phelan, who waited three years to learn CervicalCheck had an internal report on her misdiagnosis, said: "The fact the head of the national screening programme could not say this morning that these women had been communicated with to me is absolutely disgraceful".

The helpline is one of a number of measures announced amid concerns over Cervical Check.

"A cancer diagnosis is one of the most, if not the most, hard experiences a person and their family can deal with".

"It has helped reduce the cervical cancer rate nationally at a rate of 7% per year".