The CervicalCheck Scandal – A Legal Analysis

Title: The CervicalCheck Scandal – A Legal Analysis

Author: India Kelly

Published : Trinity College Law Review (TCLR Online)

Full Text & Source:

The Internet, Online, 6/02/2022

Sample Text:

…..A retrospective audit of cervical cancer screenings showed that 221 women’s smear test readings missed abnormalities, leading to the development of cervical cancer. The results of the audit were not disclosed to 162 of these women, 20 of whom have since died.

Following this revelation, a number of women and their families began litigation, and an investigation was issued by the Department of Health. In this article I will discuss the findings of the Scally Report and the Phelan v HSE case to analyse the legal responsibilities and failures of those involved in the CervicalCheck scandal………

In 2011 CervicalCheck issued an audit of screening results. The purpose of the audit was primarily to be used by the laboratories for educational purposes.8 In his report, Dr. Scally said that;

‘The CervicalCheck audit was established with laudable aims but planning, governance and documentation appear to have been inadequate. There was little or no anticipation of the challenges which would arise when results were reviewed. Participating laboratories were not given a specification of how to undertake reviews and did not do so consistently. Analysis of the results was sporadic and informal. A trend was identified regarding reviews at Quest but no adequate steps appear to have been taken to define whether this represented a genuine issue and, if so, what actions should be taken to resolve it.’………..

Vicky Phelan & Jim Phelan v HSE & CPL Inc

Correspondence showing an example of such a dispute has been made public through the case brought by one woman affected by the audit. Vicky Phelan began litigation after it became apparent her 2011 smear test result was incorrect. She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2014, but was not informed of the review or audit until 2017.15

Ms. Phelan’s claims for aggravated and exemplary damages against the HSE were denied and the case struck out.

A settlement was made without admission of liability for €2.5 million against Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, the US firm which had carried out the test for HPV………….

See Also :

1.HSE Open Disclosure: National Policy (2013).

2.Comhairle na nDoctúirí Leighis, ‘Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners’ (2016, 8 edn) 43.

Click to access Guide-to-Professional-Conduct-and-Ethics-8th-Edition-2016-.pdf

3.Dr. Gabriel Scally, Scoping Inquiry into the CervicalCheck Screening Programme


If You Are Worried You May Have Cancer Please Get Tested

Cancers which are found early are the most easily treated. It makes sense to know how your body normally looks and feels.
The most common symptom of cervical cancer is bleeding from the vagina at times other than when you are having a period. You may experience:

• Bleeding between periods
• Bleeding after or during sex
• Bleeding at any time after the menopause
• A vaginal discharge that smells unpleasant
• Discomfort or pain during sex

About Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer

I Support Ukraine 🇺🇦 Irish Writer Website: Twitter: @adunlea Facebook:
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