Wednesday 21 March 2018

Court blocks woman from interfering in elderly mother’s medical treatment

THE High Court has granted an injunction preventing the daughter of a terminally-ill elderly woman from interfering with her medical treatment or moving her to another location.

The HSE says the woman's condition is so serious that she would not survive any attempt to move her.

Yesterday, in an urgent application to Mr Justice Sean Ryan, the court was informed by lawyers for the HSE that doctors treating the woman, who is in her eighties and has a number of medical conditions, believe she has only a matter of days left to live.

The judge said he was prepared to grant an injunction preventing her being moved from her current location, or interfering with her medical treatment.

The woman is currently undergoing treatment in hospital and nothing can be published which could identify her.

Peter Finlay SC, for the HSE, said one of the woman's daughters has been in dispute with her doctors about her treatment. The daughter has "vigorously objected to" and "interfered with" the treatment prescribed by her mother's doctors, he said.

The doctors say it is in her best medical interests that she be provided with palliative care. This consists of her being administered morphine to ease her pain. They also want to give her medication that will help her breathing, counsel said.

However,  counsel said, the daughter, who is medically qualified, has argued that her mother should be given a course of aggressive antibiotics to treat a serious infection.

Counsel also told the court the daughter had been obstructive, aggressive and belligerent towards the doctors and nurses treating her mother.

The daughter wants to move her mother from the hospital and place her either at another hospital some distance away or in a community care setting.

Counsel said it was the HSE's case that the woman would not survive the ambulance journey.

The HSE wants to make the woman as comfortable as possible, and provide her with humane care in her final days.

In most cases the HSE was happy to make arrangements so that a person in a similar condition could be moved to their home where the HSE could administer the level of palliative care required.

However in this case it was not possible to get the required co-operation from the woman's daughter and it now too late to move her.

The judge, who granted the injunction on a one-side only represented basis, said the case raised complex issues.

It was important the daughter be heard by the court and he made the matter returnable to tomorrow.

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