Sunday 22 October 2017

Court to rule on rights of mentally ill woman

Tim Healy

THE High Court has been asked to rule on whether a mentally ill woman's constitutional and human rights are being breached by allowing doctors to give her treatment against her wishes.

The 48-year-old woman needs treatment -- involving the taking of regular blood tests to check her white blood cell count -- which is considered essential to safeguard against potentially life-threatening side effects from her psychiatric medication.

The woman, who can only be referred to as 'D' and who is being held in the Central Mental Hospital (CMH), has paranoid schizophrenia and a borderline personality disorder.

Because she sometimes violently opposes the taking of the blood samples, they have to been taken in circumstances where she is restrained.

Last year, the HSE asked the High Court to rule on whether it was lawful for the treatment to continue in these circumstances.

Professor Henry Gerard Kennedy, clinical director of the CMH, agreed with Felix McEnroy SC, for the HSE, that it was fair to say this case was the "most difficult one in the State".

There was no other way to deal with her clinically than through the administration of particular drugs, he said.

The case continues before Mr Justice John MacMenamin today.

Irish Independent

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