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HSE was not negligent where breast cancer was true interval cancer

By: Hannah Godfrey BL

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High Court dismisses professional negligence claim against the HSE in respect of the response to the plaintiff's breast screening, on the grounds, inter alia, that: (a) the HSE had not been negligent where the plaintiff’s cancer was a true interval cancer and had therefore showed normal or benign features in the screening mammogram; (b) the HSE therefore acted appropriately in not identifying the plaintiff for clinical recall following her screening; and (c) the question of causation therefore did not arise.

Professional negligence proceedings concerning national screening service BreastCheck - plaintiff's mammogram in June 2015 referred to two radiologists, neither of whom thought that the plaintiff needed to be clinically recalled - plaintiff diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2015 and underwent chemotherapy and had all lymph nodes in right armpit removed and mastectomy of her right breast - following mastectomy plaintiff had radiotherapy - contended by plaintiff that if her cancer had been diagnosed at the time of mammogram she would have had a mastectomy but not undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy and would only have required sentinel node biopsy, and would not have suffered from side effects including lymphoedema- plaintiff also claiming that her life expectancy would have been improved - correct standard of care for clinical negligence claims determined by the profession and not by the court - no issue concerning adoption of a common practice with inherent defects that ought to have been obvious - expert evidence from consultant radiologists as to relevant standard - other expert evidence - whether defendant was negligent - whether radiographer met the correct standard of care in recording her conversation with the plaintiff - whether radiologists met the correct standard of care in reading the plaintiff's mammogram from June 2015 - whether cancer was in fact present in June 2015 and, if so, whether it would have been diagnosed had the plaintiff been clinically recalled.

Note: This is intended to be a fair and accurate report of a decision made public by a court of law. Any errors should be notified to the editor and will be dealt with accordingly.

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