A 39-year-old woman who found out she had cervical cancer just two months after giving birth to her baby has settled a High Court action over her smear tests.

The young mother, who cannot be named by order of the court, and her husband had brought proceedings against the HSE and laboratories Clinical Pathology Laboratories INC and MedLab Pathology Ltd.

The case revolved around a number of smear tests the woman had in 2011, 2013 and 2014 under the national screening programme, CervicalCheck, and which subsequently were in a review found to have been allegedly inaccurately reported.

Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty was told on Wednesday that the consolidated action brought by the couple has been settled. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

At the opening of the case, the woman’s counsel, Liam Reidy SC, instructed by solicitor Orla Kelly of Cantillons, told the court the woman had gynaecological symptoms since late 2013 and had even been tested for several diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B and gonorrhoea.

“The indignity of that is hard to conceive, knowing that from her perspective none of those conditions could have been transmitted to her, but worst, her husband also had to undergo testing.” Counsel said.

Counsel added: “It is hard to envisage the tension that existed in the household at that time when these types of conditions were being postulated for testing.”

Pregnancy

The woman continued to suffer the gynaecological symptoms throughout her pregnancy. After the birth of her baby boy in November 2015, Counsel said she continued to have symptoms and in January 2016, she was told her cervix looked abnormal.

Further investigations took place, including a biopsy, and cervical cancer was confirmed in late January 2016.

Following the cancer diagnosis, the woman’s previous smear tests results were reviewed as part of an audit process in July 2016. The woman was told the results of the review in November 2016. She had to have chemotherapy, radiation therapy and brachytherapy, the court heard.

The woman and her husband sued the HSE, MedLab Pathology Ltd of Sandyford Business Park, Dublin and US laboratory Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc with headquarters in Austin, Texas.

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It was claimed the smear samples of 2011, 2013 and 2014 were allegedly incorrectly reported and there was an alleged failure to diagnose the woman’s pre-cancerous cells on a timely basis.

It was claimed the woman felt terrible through the first year of her son’s life in 2016 and became frightened that she had given the cancer to her baby through her milk.

It was further claimed the woman could hardly believe what she was seeing when she was shown the review of her smear test in 2016 and that following her cancer diagnosis and throughout her treatment she was convinced she was going to die. Even when she went into remission, it was claimed she was unable to see any future.

All the claims were denied.