Friday 13 December 2019

Court order lets hospital feed anorexic woman via a nasal tube

Stock picture: Getty
Stock picture: Getty

Aodhan O Faolain

A hospital has secured emergency High Court orders allowing it to feed "a critically ill" young woman with anorexia nervosa by a nasal gastric tube.

The orders were sought in respect of the woman, who has been hospitalised with the ­eating disorder for several weeks, and who currently weighs just 36kg and has a body mass index (BMI) of just 12.

While the woman has told those treating her "she does not want to die," and wants to get better, she has refused to give her consent to allow the ­hospital to feed her by a nasal tube. However, the hospital says her life is in danger unless it is permitted to feed her via the tube.

The woman, described in court as being a highly intelligent individual who gets on well with medical staff, wants to beat her illness "by herself".

The hospital says there is an "irrationality to her thinking about her condition" and she is unable to apprehend the consequences of her refusal to consent to having the tube inserted.

The hospital says she does not believe her condition is so serious that her life is at risk, and she lacks the capacity to manage her own affairs to the degree she can make a decision to consent to the potentially life saving treatment.

Her doctors say she risks a sudden death unless she gets the nutrition she requires via the tube.

The hospital added while she has made attempts to take additional nutrition in recent days, she has not made enough progress and that it requires orders allowing it to feed her via the tube.

The orders were granted following an urgent hearing before Mr Justice Robert Haughton after he was satisfied the young woman lacks the capacity to give her consent to treatment her doctors say is required.

The judge, ­acknowledging the woman's situation is "quite critical", added the ­orders sought were in the young ­woman's "best interests".

Neither the young woman nor the hospital where she is being treated can be identified for legal reasons.

Following her refusal to consent the hospital, represented by Peter Finlay SC, had sought various orders, including one allowing it to treat the woman by providing her with nutrition via a nasal gastric tube.

Counsel said it was feared if the woman's condition deteriorated any further there would be "fatal consequences".

Irish Independent

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