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 Charity 2018  


Over many years, this Firm has witnessed the catastrophic consequences of healthcare mistakes. Unfortunately in many instances due to lack of health care resources, the frequency of such mistakes is increasing. Whether that is the scenario in these tragic circumstances is still to be determined.


It is noted that the Health Service Executive recalled 615 patients who attended Wexford General Hospital in relation to colonoscopies, which are bowel checks where it has been identified that there are 13 “possible missed cancers”.


Tragically of the 13 cancers detected on recall, one case involved a man who had died prior to the review.

Yet again, the HSE standard approach to these health care tragedies is: -

a) To prepare a report to be delivered to the family

b) Subsequent to that report, an external report or review in relation to the circumstances that occurred.


Unfortunately many of these expert reviews are lacking in the specificity that is required on the basis that the Terms of Reference for the review are incomplete or inadequate or alternatively the expert engaged does not have the specific expertise to be able to deliver a comprehensive report. Whether the same situation will occur in the context of the Wexford General Hospital colonoscopy catastrophe is a matter of conjecture.


Also, the delay in informing the general public of this bowel cancer mis-diagnosis catastrophe where these events occurred between March 2013 and November 2014 is unforgiveable and woefully inappropriate, most especially where concerns were first raised in October 2014. It would appear that efforts were made to disclose the true situation in or around February 2016 but media coverage at that time appears to have been restricted.


The delay that occurred in terms of bowel cancer diagnosis is extremely significant for each patient when one considers a 2004 American study indicates that the 5 year survival rates were as follows: -


a) 93% for people diagnosed with stage 1 bowel cancer

b) 82% for people diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer

c) 59% for people diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer

d)  8% for people diagnosed with stage 4 or metastatic bowel cancer

Consequently early diagnosis, intervention and timely care maximise survival chances.

The delay that occurred in terms of bowel cancer diagnosis tragically for at least 13 people has resulted in a much poorer prognosis, possibly consequence of death in terms of the chance of survival which is a systems failure with potential loss of life consequences.

Bowel Cancer Mis-Diagnosis Medical Negligence Action

Cancer mis-diagnosis cases are extremely difficult to advance where a wide range of expert opinion is required in the context of such Court actions. At least three expert opinions to address the breach of standard of care and the causation issues are required in the context of each and every bowel cancer mis-diagnosis case to be advanced. Those three opinions are required for the purpose of substantiating any entitlement.


Although, one would expect that the HSE would admit liability in relation to all 13 cases, it is highly likely that on the basis of the advices delivered by the State Claims Agency that a trenchant defence will be furnished associated with any Court proceedings contemplated.

In addition, many patients or indeed their next of kin will be seeking justice and also an explanation as to how a significant opportunity to overcome the ravages of bowel cancer has either been lost or significantly reduced. In that circumstance, it is incumbent upon the HSE to apply a duty of candour i.e. openness and transparency by allowing a comprehensive independent investigation to occur where the Terms of Reference are appropriate in terms of ascertaining what occurred and furthermore ensuring that no repetition occurs in any other hospital by virtue of appropriate recommendations being made to address any mistakes that occurred.


Please note that if you have been affected or believe you may have been affected by anything contained in this article, then please feel free to contact:

Malcomson Law Solicitors at 01 874 4422.

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