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Friday, Dec 04, 2020

Woman died after being told smear test was 'normal'

A nurse died from cervical cancer after being wrongly informed a smear test and biopsy were normal, an inquest heard.

Julie O'Connor, from Thornbury, died in February after being mistakenly given the all-clear in 2014 and 2015.

She had repeatedly seen her GP over 14 months and been referred to Southmead Hospital, but the cancer was only diagnosed when she saw a private doctor, Avon Coroner's Court heard.

North Bristol NHS Trust accepts both the smear test and biopsy were wrong.

Gynaecologists told Mrs O'Connor, 49, in October 2015 an endometrial biopsy was negative, and the hospital had also provided a "false positive" result to a routine smear test carried out the previous year.

The inquest heard that by August 2016, Mrs O'Connor had returned to her GP with the same gynaecological symptoms, and a coil was fitted.

The GP also sent her back to Southmead, questioning cervical cancer, and she was seen within two weeks, but told her cervix "looked normal".

In November 2016 Mrs O'Connor was still unwell, and her GP made a third referral to the specialists who saw her in February 2017.

The inquest heard she was due to undergo further tests the following month, but decided to see a private consultant instead.

After examining her they suspected cervical cancer, which was later confirmed.

Further tests showed the cancer had spread and Mrs O'Connor underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She died in a hospice less than 12 months later.

In a written statement Mrs O'Connor's husband Kevin told the inquest his wife had been informed in October 2017 she had stage four cancer.

He said: "At this point Julie was advised the initial scan in March 2017 had been wrongly reported, and the metastases could be seen in the original imaging and should have been picked up at the time.

"I am extremely concerned that a proper wider independent investigation has not taken place."

He said: "This negligence is of serious public concern and should scrutinise present and past decisions.

"There may be other victims who have received false negative pathology reports, and false gynaecology clinician examinations, at the North Bristol NHS Trust, who need to be reviewed."

The inquest continues.


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