Terminally ill woman wins case over misreading of cervical smear test results
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that Ruth Morrissey’s life had been ruined and she had suffered a life sentence.
A terminally ill Irish woman has won her court case over the misreading of cervical smear test results.
Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul were awarded 2.1 million euro (£1.8 million) in damages at Dublin’s High Court on Friday.
Mrs Morrissey, 37, and her husband, from Monaleen in Co Limerick, sued the Health Service Executive (HSE) and two laboratories, Quest Diagnostics and MedLab Pathology Limited.
Mr Justice Kevin Cross said that Mrs Morrissey’s life had been ruined and she had suffered a life sentence.
Terminally ill Irish woman Ruth Morrissey and her husband Paul have been awarded €2.1 million in Dublin’s High Court over the misreading of her smear tests. Speaking after the ruling Ms Morrissey said she should not have had to go through what she did. @PA pic.twitter.com/DUSm2kHYT2— Michelle Devane (@michelledevane) May 3, 2019
Mrs Morrissey was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014.
But the court heard she was not told until last year that two smear tests she had undergone through the Irish Cervical Check screening programme in 2009 and 2012 were reported incorrectly.
In his judgment Mr 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 had her slides been properly analysed in 2009, or had the slide in 2012 been deemed inadequate, then Mrs Morrissey 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.
She would not have been left in the knowledge that she has only, at most, two years to live Mr Justice Kevin Cross
“She would never have contracted cancer,” the judge said. “She would have been spared the pain and distress of what followed.”
He added: “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.”
Mr Justice Cross also said she would have been spared the knowledge that her daughter and husband will have to go through life without her care and guidance, and that “her life would not have been so tragically cut off”.
The judge ruled the HSE was entitled to an indemnity against the laboratories, but that it was liable for 10,000 euro (£8,500) relating to the health executive’s failure to inform Mrs Morrissey of the results of the smear test audits.
I would encourage every woman to continue on getting their smears because it's very important, even though it failed me Ruth Morrissey
Speaking outside the court Mrs Morrissey said: “I didn’t think I would be in this position because our Taoiseach told us that none of us would have to go through this.
“But unfortunately I’m the one who had to, so I hope that’s a positive thing for the women who are left that they don’t need to do this, to fight for what is their right to have a good life of what they’ve got left.
“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.”
She added: “The HPV (vaccine), if you’re eligible please get it. This is not a cancer that you want.”
Mrs Morrissey thanked her family, in particular her husband, “for being my rock through everything” and she also extended her thanks to her legal team, healthcare providers and Mr Justice Cross, for “showing great compassion during this great ordeal”.
“I just want to move on and spend whatever quality time I’ve left with my daughter,” she said.
Mrs Morrissey and her husband claimed that if the tests in 2009 and 2012 had been read correctly, she would have been successfully treated and she would not have developed cancer.
A number of other women affected by the cervical cancer controversy have reached settlements in their cases, but Mrs Morrissey’s case has been deemed a landmark one as it is the first to have been heard in full and to be considered in a High Court judgment.