An apology for failings in the Breastcheck Service has been given by the National Screening Service to the family of Kay O’Keefe from Clonmel who died in May 2017.
Ms O’Keefe died after being diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2014. The woman had mammograms in 2011 and 2013 but the abnormality seen in both sets of tests were not noted and acted upon.
In an apology read in the High Court today, the National Screening Service says it confirmed to her husband earlier this year that Ms O’Keeffe should have been recalled to their assessment clinic on both occasions. The service sincerely apologised for the “breach of duty” and accepted that this delay “materially contributed” to her death.
A family statement issued today says the admission and public apology provides a level of justice for Kay, her husband and her family for these catastrophic failures and their tragic outcome. The family statement continues to say “It is extremely hard to understand how the failure to detect 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” the statement concludes.
The family were represented in court by Mr Lorcan Dunphy of Donal T Ryan Solicitors. Tipperary TD Alan Kelly had worked on behalf of Kay’s husband Patsy to seek clarity on why the service had failed Ms O’Keefe. In 2018 Deputy Kelly raised the situation with Breastcheck, the National Screening Service and the Minister for Health at the time Simon Harris after Mr O’Keefe contacted him based on the Tipperary TD’s work with Vicky Phelan. Deputy Kelly is seeking an update from the National Screening Services and Breastcheck as to what they have done in the intervening years to ensure no such process failures could ever happen again.