A psychiatrist has said that a 37-year-old mother who has cancer and is suing over the alleged misinterpretation of her cervical smears is going through the stages of bereavement and feels let down by the system.
Dr John Hillery was giving evidence on the third day of a High Court action by Ruth Morrissey and her husband over two cervical smears taken under the CervicalCheck screening programme in 2009 and 2012.
Dr Hillery, who met the couple in their Limerick home last month, said Mrs Morrissey feels let down by the system and the medical practitioners she has seen.
She and her husband Paul Morrissey, of Kylemore, Schoolhouse Road, Monaleen, Co Limerick, have sued the Health Service Executive and the US laboratory Quest Diagnostics Ireland Ltd, with offices at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin, along with Medlab Pathology Ltd, with offices at Sandyford Business Park, Dublin.
It is claimed there was an alleged failure to correctly report and diagnose, and there was an alleged misinterpretation of her smear samples taken in 2009 and 2012.
A situation it is claimed allegedly developed where Mrs Morrissey's cancer spread unidentified, unmonitored and untreated until she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2014.
It is further claimed that a review of the 2009 and 2012 smears took place in 2014 and 2015 with the results sent to Mrs Morrissey's treating gynaecologist in 2016, but she was not told until May this year of those review results which showed her smears were incorrectly reported.
The court has heard the HSE admitted it owed a duty of care to Mrs Morrissey, but not to her husband, and it admits the results of her smear reviews should have been made known to her.
The laboratories deny all claims.
Mrs Morrissey suffered a recurrence of her cervical cancer this year and was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
In evidence today, Dr Hillery told the court he met Ruth and Paul Morrissey on 11 June this year when their daughter was at school.
He said he would have expected Mrs Morrissey to talk about the diagnosis of a recurrence of her cervical cancer, but the discussion "was about the things she should have been told and that she was let down."
Dr Hillery said she talked about her 2009 smear and if it would have made a difference to her, and she had noted her mother would have been alive at the time to support her.
"She told me the anger was gone. She did not present as angry or bitter but as a stoic person."
He said she was showing signs of bereavement, shock turns to anger and then acceptance in the grieving process.
Mrs Morrissey, he said, also was worried how her husband was going to cope without her and she worried about her daughter growing up without a mother.
Dr Hillery said "the three of them" did everything together and were a tight-knit family.
He said that when he asked Mrs Morrissey how she saw the future her answer was a positive one where she has a picture of the three of them together in a life that goes on as before.
Referring to Mrs Morrissey's husband, Paul, he said for him it is like he is living under a dark cloud and one of the achievements he considers in life is their family unit.
The recurrence of the cervical cancer, he said, was a watershed for the Morrisseys.
Mrs Morrissey's multidisciplinary team were meeting today to discuss her future treatment and whether it could have an effect on her prognosis.
When the court has that information it will decide at what point during the upcoming courts vacation to continue the hearings.