Stephen Teap has said that “anger is the overwhelming emotion” after Clinical Pathology Laboratories, MedLab Pathology and the HSE admitted liability for his wife’s death in the High Court.
Mr Teap’s wife, Irene, died in July 2017 after a two year battle with cancer, leaving behind two young boys.
Like Vicky Phelan, Ms Teap had been given incorrect smear results and Ms Phelan’s own court case galvanised Mr Teap to seek the truth for his family.
However, there is one crucial difference between the two cases; Ms Phelan settled her case without any admission of liability; whereas Clinical Pathology Laboratories, MedLab Pathology and the HSE settled and admitted that their failure to do their job properly cost Ms Teap her life.
“The misreading of Irene’s slide caused her to get cancer and the cancer caused her to die,” Mr Teap told The Hard Shoulder.
“That’s what today’s ruling is about.
“For me, it was only about one thing; we knew entering this process that getting to the truth, there would be no winners.
“We had already lost the day Irene died and for us, it was all about getting to the truth and preventing those that knew the truth from hiding it.”
Healthcare workers had two opportunities to alert Ms Teap that her health was at risk but on both occasions failed to do so.
“In 2010, if they’d read Irene’s slide correctly, she would be alive today,” Mr Teap continued.
“In 2013, if they read Irene’s slide correctly, she would be alive today.
“That’s a fact; that’s the admission of liability that we received and that is the truth that we’ve been fighting for.”
Mr Teap described the day as “massive” for him and his family but said that he is feeling one thing more than anything else.
“Anger is the overwhelming emotion for sure,” he said.
“Anger that it’s taken me four and a half years to reach the conclusion; anger that the HSE with their non-disclosure agreement denied Irene her own opportunity to seek the truth herself.
“And also, the opportunity of providing for her children - which she would have wanted to do - when she knew she was dying.
“So, the anger, yes, is an overwhelming emotion.”
In a statement to Newtsalk, the HSE said:
"We fully apologise to Stephen, Oscar and Noah Teap, and their wider family, for the pain they have suffered at the loss of Stephen’s wife Irene.
"We acknowledge our failure to communicate with Irene and subsequently with Stephen, in a timely and appropriate way, the results of the audit that indicated a change in the interpretation of Irene’s smear test results. For this we are also very sorry.
"We deeply regret that this and so many other cases have taken so long to be resolved. We hope that Stephen and his family finds some solace with the resolution and conclusion of this process.
"We are grateful that despite having been let down by the HSE, Stephen has continued to use his voice to raise awareness of cervical screening in Ireland.
"We appreciate that an apology will not in any way change the distress Stephen and his family have suffered but it is made with sincere regret."
Main image: Stephen Teap speaking to media outside the Four Courts in Dublin after he settled his High Court action over his wife Irene's death. Photograph: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie