Cancer Misdiagnosis Award following negligence claim

Camilla Freehill was finally able to resolve her High Court action of alleged medical negligence against the Health Service Executive (HSE) with an undisclosed cancer misdiagnosis award for the health service’s failure to diagnose and treat her breast cancer.

Mr Justice John Quirke heard from the claimant´s counsel, shortly before High Court proceedings were about to commence, that an agreement had been reached with no admission of liability by the health service, but which includes an undertaking to pay for future reconstructive surgery on a private basis.

Ms Freehill (65) was initially referred to hospital in 1993 for mammography and on many occasions thereafter. In 2002 she claims that the hospital wrongly assumed an abnormality in a mammogram related to scar from a previous surgery she had undergone when, she claims, it had in fact failed to ask if she had previously undergone surgery.

Further mammograms in 2004 and 2005 rshowed an area of “architectural distortion”, which in both cases were categorised as benign. A biopsy on the area was not performed until 2007 and cancer was diagnosed in her left breast and lymph nodes.

Within three weeks, Ms Freehill had to a mastectomy procedure and, in her claim, alleged that subsequent chemotherapy and radiotherapy created other medical problems including infections and allergic reactions. Ms Freehill also alleged that the radical surgery would have not been necessary had the hospital properly recognised and acted upon the findings of the earlier mammograms.

Despite the final settlement being reached with no admission of liability by the health service, they admitted a failure to properly diagnose and treat Ms Freehill during a period from 2000 to 2007, but denied any negligence in her treatment prior to 2000 and responsibility for the deterioration of her condition due to the misdiagnosis.