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Missed Cancer Diagnosis Case Brought to High Court

A woman has taken the HSE to the High Court over a claim that early diagnosis of her breast cancer were missed during the “Breast Check” screenings held in her local clinic.

On the 25th November 2011, Eileen-a retired schoolteacher from Piltown, Kilkenny-underwent a routine breast examination as part of “Breast Check”, the National Breast Screening Programme. According to the medical professionals performing the check, Eileen had a clean bill of health and discharged her without suggesting that she seek further medical attention.

A year after this examination, Eileen visited her GP after feeling unwell. During a medical examination, the GP discovered that Eileen had a large mass on her breast. She was then sent to Waterford Regional Hospital for further testing. An ultrasound and biopsy were performed, and the results of which confirmed the diagnosis of a Grade 2 carcinoma.

Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy as soon as the diagnosis was made. In spite of the efforts of the medical professionals, the cancer could not be treated. In April 2013, Eileen had a mastectomy. After her recovery, Eileen sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for her missed diagnosis.

In her claim, which was made against the Health Service Executive as the overseer of “Breast Check”, as the screening allegedly missed critical signs that Eileen was suffering from cancer. Eileen alleged that the treatment she underwent would not have been necessary had she been diagnosed with cancer a year earlier. However, the HSE denied that they were guilty of medical negligence.

Due to the contest of liability, the case proceeded to court. The case was heard at Dublin’s High Court by Mr Justice Kevin Cross. He informed of the details of the case by Eileen’s legal team, who argued that the first mammogram, taken in November 2011, should have alerted doctors that Eileen would need further examinations. The failure to conduct these, it was alleged, meant that Eileen was put in unnecessary danger of the cancer progressing.

Though Eileen had been declared cancer-free since the mastectomy, Judge Cross was told that her prognosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The case will continue later this week.

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