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Hospital apologises over failures in care of woman

Galway University Hospital has apologised to the family of a 49-year-old woman who died from cancer after what the High Court heard was a failure to interpret a number of tests over several years.

The court was told that Lynn Rocke from Mountbellew in Galway had been having mammograms since 2010 and had a family history of breast cancer.

She also had a history of breast lesions and abscess.

She had attended numerous medical appointments for rib pain and chest soreness.

A number of tests were carried out including a mammogram and an MRI in 2017 which showed issues with her spine.

In 2018 she was diagnosed with extensive metastatic cancer and died exactly two years later on 16 March 2020.

Today her husband Kieran Rocke from Mountbellew in Galway settled his case against the HSE.

The details of the settlement were not disclosed and it was made without admission of liability.

Senior counsel Eugene Gleeson for Ms Rocke’s family told the High Court there was a failure on a number of occasions to interpret tests carried out, going back to a mammogram in 2013.

Her family said the failure to carry out a CT scan in 2017 set the stage for “a cascade of unfortunate events” leading to her eventual diagnosis and death.

Hospital accepted ‘deeply regretful’ failings

In a letter to Kieran Rocke, Galway University Hospitals said it accepted there were failings in the care provided to Lynn Rocke which was “deeply regretted”.

That letter also said “we wish to extend our sincere apologies to you and your family and our sincere condolences on the passing of Lynn”.

A statement after today’s settlement read on behalf of her husband Kieran by Lynn’s brother Michael Hogan said: “Our legal journey sought justice for Lynn’s suffering and aims to shed light on the lapses in the medical care she received.

“The core of this case revolves around the missed opportunities for early detection and intervention, as recommended by experts.

“The failure to carry out necessary investigations may have cost Lynn valuable time in her battle against metastatic breast cancer.

“Kieran’s hope, by bringing awareness today, is that it might encourage others to ask, and keep asking, the difficult questions until they are answered.”

“Kieran hopes that in some way his wife’s death was not in vain, and truly hopes no other family will have to suffer as he and his children have.

“For Kieran and my family – Lynn will always be in their hearts and thoughts.

“Undoubtedly, March is particularly difficult as it brings another anniversary of her passing.

“As Kieran and his family moves forward, their hope is that Lynn’s legacy becomes a catalyst for positive change within our healthcare system, ensuring that no one else has to endure the pain that Kieran and his family is going through.

“There is always somebody missing. Lynn’s death has left a wound that will never heal. A life that is gone forever, laughter that will never be heard again, a devoted mother and wife that will be forever loved and missed.”

Mr Justice Coffey approved the division between the three children of the statutory sum for mental distress in cases of wrongful death. The judge expressed his sympathy to Ms Rocke’s family.

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