Sunday 16 December 2018

Doctors cleared to operate on disabled woman

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Tim Healy

Doctors have been granted permission to carry out a mastectomy on an intellectually disabled woman.

A judge made orders yesterday based on evidence that the woman lacks capacity to understand she has breast cancer or the consequences of failure to treat it.

The woman, aged in her seventies, has been in residential care for some years and has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and intellectual disability.

The HSE, on foot of evidence of three doctors and supported by members of the woman's family and her court-appointed guardian, applied yesterday to the president of the High Court for orders permitting the surgery to be carried out shortly.

The application was made to Mr Justice Peter Kelly in the context of an intended application to have the woman made a ward of court.

Counsel for the HSE said the unanimous view of three medical practitioners involved in the woman's care and treatment was that she lacked the necessary mental capacity to understand the seriousness of her cancer condition, and make appropriate decisions on treatment.

The doctors, including the woman's treating psychiatrist, said she did not appear to understand she was at risk if she did not undergo treatment, he said.

The woman had maintained there is nothing wrong with her breast, the court was told.

Mr Justice Kelly said that all the evidence was that the woman lacked capacity to understand her diagnosis and to consent for herself to the treatment.

He made orders permitting the treatment to be carried out, plus all necessary ancillary orders.

Irish Independent

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