Anorexic woman can continue to be fed through tube

HSE sought court order to prevent the collapse of the 22-year-old’s system

Counsel for the HSE said the court order had been hugely effective and the woman has accepted seven daily nutritional feeds.

Counsel for the HSE said the court order had been hugely effective and the woman has accepted seven daily nutritional feeds.

Fri, Jan 31, 2014, 16:52

A young woman who has been hospitalised for months with the eating disorder anorexia nervosa can continue to be fed through a tube if she refuses the feeds deemed necessary for her, the High Court ordered yesterday.

The President of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, agreed today to extend to February 17th his order permitting the tube feeding of the 22-year-old woman after hearing an update on her progress.

The judge also indicated, should the woman’s lawyers apply for an independent psychiatric assessment of her to be carried out, he would be sympathetic to that application.

The HSE on January 23rd last sought an order allowing doctors feed the woman via a tube. That application was made after the woman had refused four of the seven daily nutritional feeds considered by doctors as necessary to save her system from collapse.

Peter Finlay SC, for the HSE, said the court order had been hugely effective and the woman has accepted the seven daily nutritional feeds.

In a report to the court, a consultant psychiatrist said the woman had become “acutely distressed” at having to accept further nutritional supplements and last Wedensday refused her afternoon feed. However, after hospital staff explained the court decision to her again, she had, “after much support and encouragement”, accepted the feed, the report stated.

The woman had later said the only reason she has been able to accept the feeds was because she realised the court order meant she would be given them through the PEG feeding tube otherwise. She also reiterated she does not want to die.

The psychiatrist said the multi-disciplinary team caring for her believed the court’s intervention is allowing the woman to hand control of her feeding to the staff. Without the intervention, she would have to take the responsibility for herself and the team believed she is currently unable to do so, it was stated.

The team believe she will continue to improve with the current care plan, the report added.

Mr Finlay said it would be very much in the woman’s interest to have the the status quo maintained and he asked that the feeding order continue to February 17th when, he said, a great deal more will be known about the woman’s welfare.

Last week, the court heard the woman had refused four out of seven oral nutritional supplements in one 24 hour period and, because of her low body weight which was then 32.8kg with a BMI of 12.2, she ran the risk of collapse. Her medical team believed she needed to restore 7kg to allow her to be sufficiently stable to function outside of the hosptial, it was stated.