Cervical cancer expert tells High Court it was 'incorrect' to say abnormal cells identified on smear slide had nothing to do with woman's cancer

A cervical cancer expert yesterday told the High Court it was incorrect to say the cells he identified as abnormal on Ruth Morrissey’s MedLab smear slide had nothing to do with the cancer she suffered.

Dr Michael McKenna was under cross examination by counsel for MedLab in the fifth day of the case taken by Limerick woman Ruth Morrissey who has sued the HSE and two US laboratories.

The action is over the alleged misreading of two smear tests she had in 2009 and 2012 under the CervicalCheck screening programme. Ms Morrissey is seriously ill with cervical cancer.

Consultant cytopathologist, Dr Mc Kenna, who is head of one of the North’s four screening laboratories has already given evidence to the court that cervical  cancer “on the balance of probabilities” was there in Ms Morrissey’s 2012 smear slide when it was tested by the MedLab laboratory and reported as negative.

On Wednesday, Eoin McCullough SC for MedLab, in his cross examination said Ms Morrissey did not develop glandular cell cancer but squamous cell cancer.

Put to Dr McKenna that the cells he identified as abnormal in the 2012 MedLab slide had nothing to do with the cancer Ms Morrissey got, Dr McKenna replied: “That would be incorrect.”

Dr McKenna disagreed these cells he identified as abnormal were unrelated to the cancer Ms Morrissey suffered.

Ms Morrissey and her husband Paul Morrissey of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick have sued the HSE and the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd with offices at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin along with Medlab Pathology Ltd with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin 18.

It is claimed there was an alleged failure to correctly report and diagnose and there was an alleged misinterpretation of her smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012. A situation it is claimed allegedly developed where Ms Morrissey’s cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.

It is further claimed a review of the 2009 and 2012 smears took place in 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Ms Morrissey’s treating gynaecologist in 2016, but she was not told  until May 2018 of those review results which showed her smears were reported incorrectly.

The Morrisseys further contends that if Ms Morrissey had been told the results of the smear test audits in late 2014 or early 2015, she would have insisted on an MRI and other scans.

The HSE the court has already heard admitted it owed a duty of care to Ms Morrissey but not to her husband. The laboratories deny all claims.

The case continues.

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