High Court Hearing for Cancer Misdiagnosis Claim

A medical negligence claim, made by a woman who underwent unnecessary treatment due to a missed diagnosis of breast cancer, has had its first High Court hearing.

The claim was made by Eileen Fennessy, a sixty-nine year-old retired school teacher from Piltown in Co. Kilkenny. On the 25th November 2011, Eileen underwent a routine breast examination as part of “Breast Check”, the National Breast Screening Programme, but the screening allegedly missed critical signs that Eileen was suffering from cancer.

A year after this examination, Eileen visited her GP, who discovered that Eileen had a large mass on her breast. She was then sent to Waterford Regional Hospital, where an ultrasound and biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of a Grade 2 carcinoma.

Eileen was put on a course of chemotherapy as soon as the diagnosis was made, though this did nothing to stop the cancer. In April 2013, Eileen had a mastectomy. After her recovery, Eileen sought legal counsel and proceeded to make a claim for her missed diagnosis.

In her claim, which was made against the Health Service Executive as the overseer of “Breast Check”, Eileen alleged that the treatment she underwent would not have been necessary had she been diagnosed with cancer a year earlier. However, the HSE have denied that they were guilty of medical negligence.

The case proceeded to Dublin’s High Court, where Mr Justice Kevin Cross was informed of the details of the case. Eileen’s legal team argued that the first mammogram, taken in November 2011, should have alerted doctors that Eileen would need further examinations. The failure to conduct these, it was alleged, meant that Eileen was put in unnecessary danger of the cancer progressing.

Though Eileen had been declared cancer-free, Judge Cross was told that her prognosis is “extremely serious and devastating”. The case will continue later this week.