37-year-old Ruth Morrissey will return to the High Court in the coming weeks after bringing legal action against the HSE and two laboratories last July for allegedly misreading two of her cervical smear slides.
Ms Morrissey, who now has a maximum of two years to live, has already given evidence before Mr Justice Kevin Cross in July and at the start of her resumed action at the beginning of this month. Her resumed action has taken evidence over 11 days having adjourned last July after hearing four days of evidence.
Patrick Hanratty SC, for the HSE, said it would be necessary to recall Ms Morrissey on the issue of alleged medical negligence. However, the judge stated he did not want a ‘ping pong’ of expert reports and witnesses and refused to allow Quest Diagnostics, one of the defendant laboratories, to bring forward another expert witness. The judge said the case which had initially been fast-tracked was now proceeding at ‘the slow speed of a tram’.
Ruth Morrissey, from Limerick, sued the HSE and the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd in Dublin as well as Medlab Pathology Ltd in Dublin. It is claimed there was an alleged failure to report and diagnose correctly, and there was an alleged misinterpretation of her smear samples taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012.
Sandra Tan, a US based cytotechnologist, said she could see abnormalities within 15 seconds of reviewing Ms Morrissey’s 2009 smear slide, and believes that Quest Diagnostics should have passed them to the pathologist for further testing. Ms Morrissey’s 2012 slide, which was originally read by Medlab Pathology Ltd, also showed enough atypical cells present that it should have been given to a pathologist for further review, according to Ms Tan.
It is claimed that Ms Morrissey’s cancer spread undetected and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014. It is further claimed a review of both the 2009 and 2012 smears took place between 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Ms Morrissey’s treating gynaecologist in 2016. However, Ms Morrissey was not told until May 2018 of those review results which showed her smears has been misreported.
The HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey, while the laboratories deny all claims.