‘Di­ag­no­sis de­lays cut my chance of sur­vival’

Irish Daily Mail - - News - By He­len Bruce he­len.bruce@dai­ly­mail.ie

A WOMAN’S can­cer di­ag­no­sis was de­layed by 522 days, re­duc­ing her chance of sur­vival, the High Court has heard.

Joan O’Sul­li­van sued for dam­ages for med­i­cal neg­li­gence, and Judge Michael Hanna was told yes­ter­day that the case had been set­tled, on undis­closed terms.

Ms O’Sul­li­van, 50, a home­maker from Old Road, Cashel, Co. Tip­per­ary, sued the HSE over the care she re­ceived at Cork Uni­ver­sity Hos­pi­tal, the court heard.

She claimed an 8mm tu­mour in her right breast was not di­ag­nosed af­ter she had a scan in April 2016, and when the tu­mour was di­ag­nosed 522 days later in Oc­to­ber 2017, it was 3cm in size.

Judge Hanna heard that Ms O’Sul­li­van has a gene mu­ta­tion which means she is at higher risk of can­cer. Due to the fam­ily his­tory of the mu­ta­tion, known as BRCA1, Ms O’Sul­li­van had been un­der­go­ing yearly mam­mo­grams and MRI scans.

Her coun­sel, Pa­trick Treacy, said she had a bi­lat­eral MRI in April 2016 – at which, the court was told, a new le­sion was present in her breast. How­ever, there was no biopsy car­ried out of that le­sion, and no di­ag­no­sis was made. The new le­sion was not dis­cussed in a multi-dis­ci­plinary team meet­ing, and she was not re­called for a re­peat MRI.

‘Po­ten­tially lost three years of life’

The le­sion was in­stead re­ported to be a con­flu­ence of ves­sels, and of no con­cern. The court was told that in Oc­to­ber 2017, she pre­sented with a lump in her right breast mea­sur­ing 3cm in size.

Mam­mo­grams the same day re­vealed that she had de­vel­oped can­cer. The judge was told Ms O’Sul­li­van has since had 20 weeks of chemo­ther­apy and a right-sided mas­tec­tomy.

It was ar­gued that be­cause she was not given chemo­ther­apy at an ear­lier stage, she had lost a 13% chance of sur­vival over the next ten years, and that even with chemo­ther­apy at the later date she had po­ten­tially lost three years of life.

In a linked ac­tion, Ms O’Sul­li­van also sued St James’s Hos­pi­tal in Dublin, claim­ing she suf­fered a per­fo­ra­tion to her bowel dur­ing an op­er­a­tion to re­move her ovaries in 2013, which was part of a can­cer pre­ven­tion plan.

The com­pli­ca­tions from the op­er­a­tion de­railed her plans for a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy, Mr Treacy said, as she had ab­dom­i­nal pain and was suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress. Coun­sel said if she’d had a mas­tec­tomy, she would never have de­vel­oped the can­cer­ous lump in her right breast.

Both St James’s and the HSE de­nied her claims, but the court was told the HSE had this week ad­mit­ted a breach of duty in re­la­tion to some of the care at CUH.

The judge wished Ms O’Sul­li­van ‘all the best for the fu­ture’.

Claims: Joan O’Sul­li­van at court yes­ter­day

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