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Cantillons Solicitors on Today FM’s The Matt Cooper Show on Breast Check and the latest scaremongering

Posted in [Blog Medical Negligence ] on Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Karen Kearney on Today FM’s The Matt Cooper Show regarding Breast Check and the recent scaremongering by Professor Ann O’Doherty,National Clinical Director of the Breast Check programme and Professor Arnie Hill, Surgical Adviser to the National Control Programme, designed to deflect from the increased and valid public concern over the quality of cancer care and screening in the country in the wake of the CervicalCheck scandal.

Karen did not get an opportunity to respond to the other guest’s comments at the end of the slot on the present legal system, those of Niall O’Toole, an adviser to the NHS on health reform.  There has been a lot of talk recently about taking lawyers out of hospitals. However, what the CervicalCheck scandal has shown precisely is that the present system is working. If it was not for lawyers and specifically Vicky Phelan’s lawyer, we would not know about the deficiencies in that screening programme.

Legal costs are largely driven because of the HSE’s/ SCA’s defend and deny policy. Look at the farcical scenario we saw with Professor Grainne Flannelly, CervicalCheck’s then Clinical Director and other senior clinicians in Ireland arguing via correspondence, for over 15 months, about who would tell who what and the obsession of keeping it from media.

That is a microcosm of exactly what we come up against day after day.

What needs to change is this.

The State Claims Agency needs to focus on the resolution of the cases at a far earlier stage. When an adverse event occurs, they need to investigate it and if there is a liability, they need to come and tell the patient that there has been an error made and that they accept responsibility.

We need candidness in the doctor/patient relationship from the outset and we then need that candidness to be reflected in the manner in which the cases are dealt with.
Rules of Court need to be brought into place which require the HSE (and any other Defendants for that matter) to candidly admit what the position is.  At the present time, they submit full defences in which they deny everything.

Look at the Vicky Phelan defence. It denies everything, yet €2.5m was ultimately paid. How are they reconcilable?

If the Defendants had to face up to their responsibilities long before the matter ever goes to court, a lot of the cases and the trauma that is associated with them, would be removed.

Costs paid by the taxpayer would be significantly reduced.

Let’s not fall into the trap of deflecting attention from the appalling failures in our health system and finding a new fall guy – the legal profession. Time for change, yes.  But the right changes; ones that will make Ireland’s health system fit for purpose for all of us.

Contact Our Medical Negligence Solicitors in Cork

If you are looking to make a cancer misdiagnosis claim, please contact Cantillons Solicitors using the contact form below, call us on +353 (0)21 4275673 or email us at for more information. Our offices are located at 39 South Mall, Cork. We do, however, represent clients from all over Ireland. Should you be unable to attend our offices, we are more than happy to travel to you, or conduct the meeting on Zoom.

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Karen Kearney



In her twenty years as a practising solicitor, Karen has worked with a number of leading law firms in Limerick and Cork where she has acquired extensive experience in all areas of the law, with a particular expertise in medical negligence cases.

Karen has represented clients effectively in many forums including the District Court, Circuit Court, High Court, Employment Tribunals and Coroner’s Court. She has acted for, and advised, State Bodies in respect of all areas of the law to include childcare law; employment issues; food safety and health and safety issues.

Karen joined Cantillons Solicitors in November 2009 and works in the Medical Negligence Department practising clinical negligence litigation.  She is expertly assisted by Patricia Sisk and April Wiseman, Legal Assistants.

She is very proud to be a member of the medical negligence team which  has been involved in precedent-setting  cases since 1980 and which received the inaugural award of Litigation Team of the Year, National Irish Bank Law Awards in 2012.

Karen regularly attends international conferences in order to add to  her pool of her experts and ensure access to the world’s best. She is also regularly asked to speak at national and international conferences concerning medico-legal issues. She is a regular speaker at the annual Medical Law Conference; giving presentations on healthcare law, practice and procedure to employees in the healthcare section and fellow lawyers. This lecturing experience means that Karen has an excellent grasp of law in theory as well as in practice.

Karen has featured on national television and on local and national radio  in relation to this specialised area of medical negligence litigation.She has been commissioned to write opinion pieces on topical issues in the medical negligence area, published in national newspapers. Notably, she first highlighted in the Irish Examiner, the Minister for Health’s failure to introduce a statutory Duty of Candour-  a legal requirement for medical staff, nurses and management to tell patients and their families if a mistake has been made which adversely affects the patient’s health – despite the Minister’s promise to do so.

Karen also writes a weekly column in a local daily newspaper, the Evening Echo, addressing reader’s legal queries. This column  appears in Monday’s edition of the paper.

Karen has developed real expertise in her field and has shown great dedication in pursuing complex injury cases to settlement.

Karen gets referrals from patients nationwide. She represents her patients with determination and compassion.


  • BCL Honours 1992
  • Admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in Michaelmas 1996


  • Former Secretary of Limerick Bar Association
  • Former member of the Litigation Committee of the Law Society of Ireland
  • Member of the Medical Injuries Alliance
  • Member of Action Against Medical Accidents (AvMA)

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