‘Find out if patient is alive or not’ was scribbled on her file. We’re grieving all over again
The following statement was released by the Reck family late on Friday night:
We cannot believe we are writing this. We cannot believe that this is happening to us.
Vicky Phelan, Irene teap and emma Mhic Mhathúna are all women you have heard about since this fiasco began. You can now add catherine Reck to that list.
catherine had a routine smear test in november 2010. the results given to her were low-grade abnormalities (pre-cancerous cells) and she was told to wait six months and return for retest, which is the normal procedure when low-grade, pre-cancerous abnormalities are detected. However, she began having irregular bleeding shortly after this test. When the bleeding got increasingly worse she presented to a GP In april 2011. that GP then wrote to cervicalcheck in tallaght Hospital to say catherine needed to be seen. the GP informed us at the time that they marked catherine’s case as ‘urgent’. We found out that they had never marked catherine’s case as urgent.
a member of our family who works in tallaght Hospital went to the colposcopy clinic to see why catherine’s ‘urgent’ referral had not been addressed. Following this, catherine was called for a colposcopy in tallaght on august 11, 2011. She was told there and then that they were highly confident it was cervical cancer and would do a biopsy, which confirmed catherine had Stage 3 cervical cancer. and so our nightmare began.
as many already know, catherine and her family (us) faced eight harrowing months and she passed away on april 13, 2012, aged 48.
the audit of cervical tests has uncovered that the smear catherine received in november 2010 was incorrectly reported. It was not low-grade abnormalities, it was in fact exceedingly high-grade abnormalities and needed immediate attention. We have now been informed that had this been reported correctly, the colposcopy would have been requested immediately and would have been conducted no later than January 2011. conversely, as a result of this discrepancy, the colposcopy was not carried out until august 2011 – seven months later – meaning treatment didn’t begin until october 2011, almost a year after the incorrect smear test result was received.
things could have been very different for all of us right now. that is what we are trying to process. We feel as though we are starting our grieving process all over again. It feels like a wound has been ripped open, the sadness and anger is palpable.
the doctor we sat in front of this week in tallaght Hospital was the same doctor who originally diagnosed catherine. We were invited to a Suite 8 of the hospital, the cervicalcheck suite. We had hoped for a private room, totally detached from the area that holds so much pain and sadness for us. We were not that lucky. the first staff member we encountered had no idea why we were there.
We stood in a hallway with blank faces observing the staff scramble to figure out why we were there. they then realised and spent the next few moments scrambling to find a ‘free room’ for us to meet the doctor.
the doctor arrived and we were led into an examination room. a colposcopy examination room with an examination bed and stirrups sitting in the room with us. It’s quite possible this is the exact room catherine received her examination and diagnosis in.
the doctor sat in front of us and informed us that they were made aware of the discrepancies in catherine’s smear test result in 2016. the doctor stated that they had followed instructions on a letter from cervicalcheck. the instructions read:
‘In the cases where a woman has died, simply ensure the result is recorded in the woman’s notes.’
they chose not to inform us.