The family of a 36-year-old Cork mother who died of cervical cancer on Wednesday settled High Court actions over the alleged misreporting of her smear slide.
Hairdresser, Julie Quinlan Dingivan was six weeks pregnant with her third child when she had to have a radical hysterectomy after she was diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2013.
Her family’s counsel, Patrick Treacy SC instructed by Cian O’Carroll solicitor, told the High Court Julie’s cancer recurred over six months later and she underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy but tragically the disease progressed and she died on April 8, 2017.
Counsel said that Ms Quinlan Dingivan had a smear test under the CervicalCheck national screening programme in 2009 which was tested in a US lab and came back with no abnormalities detected.
Mr Treacy said it was their case that a review of the 2009 smear slide was carried out in January 2014 which showed that the original report on the smear test was incorrect, and the outcome was conveyed to a consultant gynaecologist two years later. Counsel said Julie, who was in the last year of her life, or her husband were not told of the review outcome.
Julie’s husband, Paul Dingivan, was advised in May 2018 of the review result which the court heard was around the time of the Vicky Phelan court case and settlement was reported.
Mr Dingivan of Fermoy, Co. Cork, settled on confidential terms an action he brought on behalf of his family over the death of his wife. A separate nervous shock action brought by Julie’s 21-year-old stepdaughter, Jasmine McCarthy, also of Fermoy against the HSE was also settled on confidential terms.
The settlements are without an admission of liability.
The case was before Mr Justice Paul Coffey for the division of the statutory mental distress payment of €35,000.
Paul Dingivan, Dun Eala, Fermoy, Co. Cork, had sued the HSE and US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Incorporated which carried out the tests on Julie’s smear slide which had been taken under the CervicalCheck national screening programme in November 2009.
Ms Quinlan Dingivan had a cervical smear test on November 16, 2009. The sample was reviewed in the Quest Diagnostics laboratory and was reported back as being negative for a lesion or malignancy On December 15, 2009. She was advised that the smear test detected no abnormalities.
Julie on May 15, 2013, was diagnosed as having invasive cervical cancer and she underwent a radical hysterectomy and other procedures.
Over six months later she was diagnosed with a recurrence of her cancer, and she underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and brachytherapy. However, the disease progressed and she died in April 2017.
It was claimed that subsequent to Julie’s diagnosis, and unknown to her or her husband, reviews were carried out by the HSE of smear tests of women who had been diagnosed with cervical cancer.
A review of Julie’s 2009 slide which was carried out on January 8, 2014, it is claimed, showed the original report in relation to the smear was incorrect. This, it is claimed, was not communicated to Julie or her husband. Mr Dingivan was told of the review outcome in 2018.
It was claimed there was an alleged failure to correctly interpret or report the 2009 smear slide and that Julie was allegedly deprived of the opportunity of a timely and effective investigation and management of her condition.
It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to advise Julie and her husband in a timely manner of the smear slide review result either prior to her death or before May 2018. The claims were denied.
Approving the division of the solatium and noting the settlements, Mr Justice Paul Coffey conveyed his deepest sympathy to Mr Dingivan and all the family.