Dublin’s High Court have heard the details of a claim made by a woman who underwent unnecessary surgery after doctors failed to diagnose her with breast cancer.
Eileen Fennessy, a sixty-nine year-old retiree – made the claim for medical negligence compensation after the National Breast Screening Programme, “Breast Check”, failed to see potential symptoms of cancer in a scan taken on in November 2011.
Eileen, who worked as a schoolteacher in Co. Kilkenny, was diagnosed with breast cancer nearly a year after that scan. Her GP had found a large mass on her breast, which lead to a referral to Waterford Regional Hospital. There, an ultrasound and biopsy were carried out, showing that Eileen had a Grade 2 carcinoma.
As soon as the diagnosis was made, Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy. Regrettably, this did nothing to clear the cancer and in April 2013, Eileen’s right breast was removed. After her recovery, the retired schoolteacher sought legal counsel before proceeding to make a claim for her cancer misdiagnosis against the Health Service Executives (HSE).
In her claim, Eileen alleged that had the Breast Check programme correctly identified her breast cancer in 2011, the subsequent chemotherapy and mastectomy would not have been needed.
The case proceeded to the High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross oversaw proceedings. Eileen’s barrister told the court that the original mammogram should have indicated to medical staff that Eileen required further examinations. However, the failure of the staff to notice the warning signals meant that Eileen was put in danger as the cancer worsened.
Eileen has since been declared cancer-free, though the judge was told that the underlying diagnosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The HSE has continued to deny that they were negligent, and the case will continue in the High Court later this week.