Family Hear Apology from Hospital for Failing to Diagnose Abdomen Cancer

The family of a young woman who died due to medical negligence have heard an apology for failing to diagnose abdomen cancer read out by the hospital responsible for her death.

Thirty-one year old Sharon McEneaney died from a cancerous tumour in her abdomen in April 2009 – eighteen months after she had first attended the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda complaining of abdominal pain.

No investigation action was taken in the emergency room, and Sharon´s tumour went undiagnosed for over a year until – due to the intervention of former TD Dr Rory O´Hanlon – a biopsy was performed in June 2008.

By then it was too late for Sharon from Carrickmacross in County Monaghan to benefit from conventional cancer treatments, and she died nine months later.

An investigation carried out by the Health Service Executive (HSE) after Sharon´s death made thirty-eight separate recommendations to prevent the hospital failing to diagnose abdomen cancer in the future.

In January 2012, a hearing of the Medical Council of Ireland´s Fitness to Practise Committee found Sharon´s attending physician – Dr Etop Samson Akpan – guilty of a poor professional performance.

At the High Court in Dublin, the General Manager of the Louth & Meath Hospital Group – Margaret Swords – read out an apology to Sharon´s family, admitting that the hospital had failed Sharon.

Ms Swords stated that the hospital was making progress in making the changes required by the HSE´s report into Sharon´s death but, five years later, six of the HSE´s recommendations are still to be put into action.

The court was also told that a settlement of compensation for the hospital failing to diagnose abdomen cancer had been agreed between the hospital and the McEneaney family amounting to €62,500.

€10,000 of the settlement will cover the costs of Sharon´s funeral and other expenses connected with her death, while Sharon´s mother – Jane – is to receive €27,100, and the remainder to be shared between Sharon´s four siblings.

Closing the hearing, Ms Justice Mary Irvine commended Sharon´s family for their tenacity and courage, and commented “You have shown marvellous fortitude in the face of such a loss”.