HSE apologises over delayed cancer diagnosis

Tuesday 13 May 2014 21.34
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Sharon McEneaney was described as a beloved daughter, sister and friend
Sharon McEneaney was described as a beloved daughter, sister and friend
A HSE report found the hospital 'completely failed' Ms McEneaney
A HSE report found the hospital 'completely failed' Ms McEneaney
An inquiry found Dr Etop Akpan guilty of poor professional performance
An inquiry found Dr Etop Akpan guilty of poor professional performance

The HSE has unreservedly apologised for shortcomings in the management and care of Sharon McEneaney at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

The High Court has been told that the HSE has reached a settlement of €62,500 in the case of the 31-year-old woman, who waited nine months for a cancer diagnosis and died in 2009.

In the apology read out to Ms Justice Mary Irvine, the HSE said there were many deficits in Ms McEneaney's care which led to delayed cancer diagnosis and treatment.

It apologised to her family for their loss.

Ms McEneaney first attended the Emergency Department of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda in October 2007, complaining of abdominal pain.

The crèche manager from Carrickmacross in Co Monaghan died in April 2009, from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen, after being treated at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin.

A HSE report into the case found that the Drogheda hospital "completely failed her" and raised questions about the standards of care and the safety culture at Our Lady of Lourdes.

In January 2012, a Medical Council fitness-to-practise inquiry found consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Etop Akpan guilty of poor professional performance on two counts in relation to the case.

He failed to take adequate responsibility for Ms McEneaney and ensure she received appropriate and timely care.

The HSE report did find Dr Akpan was careful, hardworking and reflective.

It said that while it was not clear that Ms McEneaney's rare disease was curable at the time of her presentation, it is likely her surgery would have been less radical with a better quality of life, if her diagnosis had been made earlier.

Ms McEneaney attended the Lourdes Emergency Department three times between October and November 2007.

Initially she was suspected of having an ovarian cyst after hospital tests.

A diagnosis of neurofibromatosis was previously made in December 2004.

Later, after an intervention by local GP and former TD Dr Rory O'Hanlon in May 2008, she had a biopsy and a malignant tumour was diagnosed.

She was referred to Beaumont Hospital for treatment in July 2008 and died in April 2009.

The McEneaney family have welcomed today's ruling on the settlement of the civil case and apology.

Sinead O'Reilly said that the family are relieved that the outcome vindicated the decision to pursue justice, following the review conducted by the HSE into the case and the Medical Council inquiry.

The family described Ms McEneaney as a beloved daughter, sister and friend.

They said that the HSE review into Ms McEneaney's care made 38 recommendations and it has appealed to the HSE to implement the outstanding six recommendations.

Ms Justice Irvine commended the family for participating in inquiries to effect change in the hospital to reduce the risk of such a tragedy happening again.