The National Screening Service has apologized to the family of a woman who died of breast cancer after two consecutive breast screening mammograms found no abnormalities.
The High Court heard that Kay O’Keeffe, 63, of Clonmel in County Tipperary, died in May 2017, reports RTE.
She had mammograms in 2011 and 2013, but the abnormality seen in both sets of images went undetected at the time.
Ms O’Keeffe was finally diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2014.
In an apology delivered today at a public hearing, the National Screening Service wrote to her husband this year to agree to Ms O’Keeffe being called back to her evaluation clinic on both occasions, reports RTE.
The service apologized profusely for the “breach of duty” and admitted that the delay “materially contributed” to her death.
It expressed their sincere regret for what had happened and the devastating consequences for her husband, Patsy, and their three children.
The matter was resolved and an agreement was reached, reports RTE.
Judge Paul Coffey expressed his deepest condolences to Mr. O’Keeffe and his children.
An attorney acting on behalf of the O’Keefe family read a statement on their behalf following the hearing.
In the statement, the family asked: “How could two consecutive mammograms, on the same person, performed two years apart, be misread on each occasion, when every mammogram is read independently by two consultant breast radiologists?. It is extremely hard to understand how the failure to detect the abnormalities on four independent readings occurred and clearly indicates a process failure. The responsibility now rests with BreastCheck to provide the assurance to women in Ireland that such failures can never happen again,” reports RTE.
Labour TD Alan Kelly, who supported the family’s case, said: “Today’s public apology marks the culmination of years of struggle by Patsy and the O’Keefe family to get some level of justice for Kay’s treatment. They owed it to Kay. The catastrophic failures in process in this case are clear. The question is how did they happen? I am a huge supporter of BreastCheck and indeed all screening services. My track record demonstrates this. Screening saves lives. However, it is incumbent on me to ask the National Screening Services and BreastCheck what they have done in the intervening years to ensure no such process failures as catastrophic as this could ever happen again and I will in support of the O’Keefe family continue to do so,” reports RTE.
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