Mother with breast can­cer sues two hospi­tals over care

Irish Examiner - - News - Ann O’Lough­lin

A mother of two who has breast can­cer has launched a High Court ac­tion over the care she re­ceived at two hospi­tals.

Joan O’Sul­li­van, who has a mu­ta­tion gene which means she is at higher risk of can­cer, claims she has suf­fered a de­lay in the di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of her can­cer and, as a re­sult, her life ex­pectancy may have been re­duced.

The Tip­per­ary woman has sued St James’s Hos­pi­tal, Dublin, claim­ing she suf­fered an al­leged per­fo­ra­tion to her bowel dur­ing an op­er­a­tion in 2013 which was part of a can­cer pre­ven­ta­tive plan and, as a re­sult, she has claimed plans for a pre­ven­ta­tive full mas­tec­tomy were de­railed.

She has also sued the HSE over her care at Cork Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal (CUH) where, she claims, an 8mm tumour in her right breast was not di­ag­nosed when she had a scan in 2016 and when the tumour was di­ag­nosed 522 days later it was 3cm in size.

Ms O’Sul­li­van, Mr Jus­tice Michael Hanna was told, has since had 20 weeks of chemo­ther­apy and has had a right­sided mas­tec­tomy.

Ms O’Sul­li­van, of McDon­agh Court, Old Rd, Cashel, Co Tip­per­ary, has sued St James’s Hos­pi­tal claim­ing in re­la­tion to the 2013 pro­ce­dure that there was an al­leged fail­ure to ex­er­cise rea­son­able care and skill and her bowel was al­legedly per­fo­rated.

She has also sued the HSE claim­ing there was an al­leged fail­ure to iden­tify or to heed ad­e­quately or at all a sig­nif­i­cant ab­nor­mal­ity in an MRI scan car­ried out in CUH in April 2016 and there was an al­legedly de­layed di­ag­no­sis of triple neg­a­tive breast can­cer in her right breast.

Mr Jus­tice Hanna was told that St James’s Hos­pi­tal and the HSE deny claims but the HSE this week, by let­ter, ad­mit­ted a breach of duty in re­la­tion to some of the care af­forded at CUH.

Ms O’Sul­li­van’s coun­sel, Patrick Treacy, told the court Ms O’Sul­li­van, who has lost mem­bers of her ex­tended fam­ily to can­cer, was di­ag­nosed as a car­rier of the BRCA1 mu­ta­tion gene, which means the car­rier has a higher risk of ovar­ian and breast can­cer.

Coun­sel said it was de­cided there would be on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing of Ms O’Sul­li­van at St James’s Hos­pi­tal and a treat­ment plan was put in place. He said it was de­cided Ms O’Sul­li­van would have a pro­ce­dure as an out­pa­tient on March 6, 2013, to re­move her ovaries and fal­lop­ian tubes and a dou­ble mas­tec­tomy was ex­pected to be car­ried out in au­tumn 2013.

Coun­sel said that, on March 6, “trag­i­cally and un­for­tu­nately” a sim­ple and pro­found er­ror was made. It was their case that an al­leged per­fo­ra­tion of Ms O’Sul­li­van’s bowel took place dur­ing the su­tur­ing af­ter the la­paro­scopic pro­ce­dure.

It was their case that the al­leged per­fo­ra­tion should not have hap­pened and the post-op care al­legedly fell be­low the stan­dard of the hos­pi­tal.

Mr Treacy said Ms O’Sul­li­van was dis­charged from hos­pi­tal when she was in sig­nif­i­cant pain.

Days later, she was ad­mit­ted to an­other hos­pi­tal feel­ing un­well and with a raised tem­per­a­ture. She was ad­vised she had sep­sis and E.coli and she had to have an­other op­er­a­tion.

Mr Treacy said Ms O’ Sul­li­van’ s plans for a pre­ven­ta­tive dou­ble mas­tec­tomy in au­tumn 2013 were de­railed as the woman was not well, had ab­dom­i­nal pain, and was suf­fer­ing from post-trau­matic stress and hav­ing flash­backs re­lat­ing to the March 2013 pro­ce­dure.

On Oc­to­ber 19, 2017, she was di­ag­nosed with can­cer in the right breast. Coun­sel said if Ms O’Sul­li­van had a mas­tec­tomy in au­tumn 2013, she would never have de­vel­oped the two lumps in her right breast.

Coun­sel said that, on April 29, 2016, Ms O’Sul­li­van had an MRI scan at CUH. Coun­sel said it was their case that, on this oc­ca­sion, a tumour of 8mm wide was present in her right breast, but there was no biopsy. When she next had a scan in Oc­to­ber 2017 the tumour was 3cm in size, said Mr Treacy.

The case con­tin­ues.

Pic­ture: Dar­ragh Kane

Nina Witte and Carolin Kramer, Cobh Com­mu­nity Col­lege, ex­am­ine a tur­bine dis­play with lec­turer Michael O’Dono­van at the CIT Na­tional Mar­i­time Col­lege of Ire­land open day.

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