Teenager Kate McCartin was misdiagnosed with a serious condition, but died of another

Kate McCartin, right, with little sister Amy.
Kate McCartin, right, with little sister Amy.  Photo: Leukemia Foundation

The family of a Central Coast girl who died in 2013 after her leukemia went undiagnosed while she was incorrectly treated for another serious condition is suing a hospital and NSW Government pathology service for negligence.

Kate McCartin, 18, of East Gosford, was misdiagnosed with a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system - in October, 2012 by the NSW Government service NSW Health Pathology and staff at Gosford Hospital. She underwent repeated chemotherapy without success.

The misdiagnosis was identified nearly one year later, in September, 2013 when Ms McCartin was admitted to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney for a bone marrow transplant and was correctly diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Kate McCartin died in December, 2013 of leukemia after receiving chemotherapy for another serious condition following a ...
Kate McCartin died in December, 2013 of leukemia after receiving chemotherapy for another serious condition following a misdiagnosis. Photo: Supplied

She was treated but died in December, 2013.

The Cancer Council states that early and appropriate treatment for both non-Hodgkin lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children leads to high cure rates.

More than 300 Australians each year are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and 60 per cent are aged 14 years and under. The condition is diagnosed by a full blood count and bone marrow biopsy. The Cancer Council states treatment needs to begin soon after diagnosis because the disease progresses quickly.

Ms McCartin's 11-year-old sister, Amy, has reached a settlement with Central Coast Local Health District and NSW Health Pathology after a court was given evidence of the serious impact of Ms McCartin's death, and the misdiagnosis, on her younger sister.

NSW Supreme Court Justice Monika Schmidt last week approved a settlement agreement reached on the child's behalf.

The agreement formed part of negligence proceedings by Kate McCartin's mother Samantha Krisman, father Craig McCartin, brother Nathan and sister Amy against Central Coast Local Health District and NSW Health Pathology.

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"Ms Krisman explained the circumstances which led to Kate's death, the relationship between Amy and Kate, the impact Kate's death had had upon Amy and the resulting difficulties she had to deal with," Justice Schmidt said.

The settlement was "beneficial" to Amy and would avoid protracted proceedings, Justice Schmidt said in a decision published on Friday.

Amy McCartin took part in the Leukemia Foundation's World's Greatest Shave after her sister's death and raised more than $5800 for leukemia research, after setting a goal of $2000.

Her head was shaved in front of her Central Coast primary school on her sister's birthday.

"So many people have been touched by cancer," Amy McCartin wrote in a post for the Leukemia Foundation.

"My life certainly has. My big sister Kate had leukemia. I am going to take part in the World's Greatest Shave to honour my sister Kate."

Newcastle Herald