The HSE and two labs have lost an appeal arising from a legal action taken by a terminally ill woman who fell victim to the CervicalCheck controversy.
Ruth Morrissey was awarded over €2 million in damages after being wrongly given the all-clear on two separate occasions.
In 2009, Ruth Morrissey was wrongly told there were no abnormalities in a smear sample analysed in a US lab. She got the same good news when another sample was analysed by a Dublin-based lab three years later.
She was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer in 2014, and only told about the findings of an audit of the previous incorrect smears four years later.
She sued the HSE, Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd and Medlab Pathology Ltd and was awarded €2.1 million in damages last year.
This appeal focused on the legal standard of care for screening, and a key issue was the High Court’s contention that screeners should have “absolute confidence” that a smear test has no abnormalities before passing it as clear.
The Supreme Court agreed that the lower court’s use of the term “absolute confidence” may have created more confusion than clarity, but said it was clear a screener shouldn’t give a clear result unless they’d no doubt.
In its 135-page judgement, it said that standard isn’t one imposed by the court, but rather one which stems from the profession itself.
All appeals were dismissed, except for the appeal of Medlab in relation to the award of damages in respect of loss of services.
*Reporting by Frank Greaney