‘Find out if pa­tient is alive or not’ was scrib­bled on her file. We’re griev­ing all over again

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - CERVICAL CANCER SCANDAL -

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.

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