Smear Test Misreported

The High Court approved a settlement against the HSE and a medical laboratory to a woman whose smear tests were misreported before her cervical cancer diagnosis. The woman required a hysterectomy after being diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2017.

Before her diagnosis she had smear tests done in 2008 and 2013 which were incorrectly reported as clear.

Her first screening was performed and checked by Galway University Hospital and the second was analysed and reported by Medlab as part of the national Cervical Check programme. The plaintiff's 2008 and 2013 smear tests were subsequently reviewed in 2017 when precancerous growths were detected.


The HSE admitted liability and read out a letter of apology to the court. The letter said it failed to disclose to her in a timely manner the results of a review of her 2013 smear sample and another from 2010 as part of a retrospective audit samples of women who were screened under Cervical Check and subsequently were diagnosed with cancer.

The plaintiff claimed that the 2017 review of her 2013 slide revealed the presence of
abnormal precancerous cells which ought to have been detected following her 2008, 2010 and 2013 smear tests.

The defendants acknowledged their breach of duty of care in failing to correctly report on her 2008 sample which resulted in unavoidable delay in diagnosis of her cancer.

O’Toole v HSE and Another High Court 14 December 2022.


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