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Family of a woman who died of breast cancer received an apology from The National Screening Service
Coleman Legal LLP
Mar 22, 2023

The National Screening Service, which operates BreastCheck and CervicalCheck, apologised in open court to the O’Keefe family after they admitted that abnormalities were missed in two of Ms. Kay O’Keefe’s mammograms.

The abnormalities appeared in Ms. O’Keefe’s mammograms dated 2011 and 2013 but were not detected by BreastCheck. Ms. O’Keefe received an incurable diagnosis of breast cancer in 2014. Ms. O’Keefe ultimately passed away in May 2017, aged 63.

The cancer would have been caught earlier and could have been treated sooner had the abnormalities of her 2011 and 2013 mammograms present in the imaging been noticed. The Court heard how each mammogram performed by BreastCheck has to be read independently by two consultant breast radiologists.

The O’Keefe family issued a statement asking how could her two consecutive mammograms, performed two years apart, be misread on both occasions.

The National Screening Service sincerely apologised for the “breach of duty” and accepted that this delay “materially contributed” to her death. Their apology was addressed to Ms. O’Keefe’s husband and her three children and expressed sincere regret for their breach and its devastating consequences.

The Service admitted that Ms O’Keeffe should have been recalled to their assessment clinic on both occasions. The case was heard in the High Court with Mr Justice Paul Coffey sitting, Justice Coffey extended his deepest sympathy to Mr O’Keeffe and his children. The O’Keefe family received the public apology prior to today’s hearing and their solicitor expressed how the admission of a breach of duty provides a level of justice for Ms. O’Keefe and her family.

He continued:

“It is extremely hard to understand how the failure to detect the abnormalities on four independent readings occurred and clearly indicates a process failure.  The responsibility now rests with BreastCheck to provide the assurance to women in Ireland that such failures can never happen again.

Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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