Women in Donegal may have received incorrect smear results

Solicitor handling the cases of two women in Donegal in similar situations

Michelle NicPhaidin


Michelle NicPhaidin


Terminally-ill Limerick woman agrees €2.5m settlement over cancer misdiagnoses

Vicky Phelan has reached a settlement of €2.5m

A Donegal solicitor believes there are a number of women in Donegal who have been told their smear tests were clear of any abnormalities when in fact this may not be the case.

Jolene McElhinney of McElhinney and Associates says she is handling the cases of two women in Donegal in very similar situations to that of Limerick woman, Vicky Phelan.

Ms. Phelan (43), was given incorrect test results and is now terminally ill with cervical cancer. She settled her High Court action against a US laboratory for €2.5m this week.

Ms. Phelan was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear of abnormalities.

By the time she had another smear test in 2014 she had cervical cancer.

Speaking on Highland Radio, Jolene McElhinney said: “What appears to have happened in these (Donegal) cases and there’s a similar thread running through all the cases, is that the smears are undertaken, they are reported upon, and the individual is told they are clear, whereas in fact there are abnormal cells.”

A smear test is undertaken to detect any abnormality which would be indicative that there is something untoward happening.

Ms. McElhinney said: “They receive a report that the slides and the smears are clear, when in fact cancer has begun or the abnormalities have begun.”

She claimed there a number of cases in Donegal where women have been told their smears were clear when that was not the case and women have developed cancer.

“There are a number of cases which are identical, as I said, they have gone on to develop cancer.

"CervicalCheck appears then to have undertaken a review so any of the individuals who have developed cancer and who had previously had a clear smear result - CervicalCheck  seems to have to have reviewed these files to identify if there was any incorrect reporting.

"CervicalCheck have identified and have contacted a number of individuals and have notified them that there was incorrect reporting of their original smears.”