Thursday 14 December 2017

Anorexic 40kg woman can still be detained, rules judge

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Tim Healy

A judge has continued orders allowing doctors to detain and treat a young woman admitted to hospital last month in an advanced state of malnutrition due to severe anorexia.

The 18-year-old, who had refused consent to the treatment, including tube re-feeding, is in a "stable but critical" condition, the president of the High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, was told by Mairead McKenna BL, for the HSE.

Given the medical and psychiatric evidence, there can be "no question" of releasing the woman, the judge said.

He noted that a medical visitor, who had been appointed by the court to assess the woman's capacity to make treatment decisions which were in her best interests, had expressed the opinion that the woman is of unsound mind.

The court-appointed medical visitor also noted that the woman lacks the capacity to make the appropriate judgments about her treatment.

The evidence is that the woman is still being tube fed, has no interest in ordinary food and has no insight into the seriousness of her condition, he said. He granted Ms McKenna's application for a two-week adjournment to facilitate the continued treatment, and in order to allow for further processing of an application which would have the woman made a ward of court.

He also continued orders for her detention and for the administrations of all treatments which are considered necessary in her best interests.

Mark Dunne, for the woman's court-appointed guardian, agreed with the orders.

Previously, the judge had noted that the evidence was that the woman would die of malnutrition unless she gets the treatment.

"It is not a question that she might, she will," he said.

When admitted to hospital last month, her body weight was about 40kg.

The woman's body mass index is also extremely low, and her teeth were falling out.

The judge was told she had been living on tea and cigarettes for three months, that she has several siblings but limited family supports.

The woman may have to be moved to the UK for specialist treatment, as there are no suitable specialist facilities here for treatment-resistant anorexia, Mr Justice Kelly previously observed.

Irish Independent

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