High Court order allows tube feeding against will of woman with anorexia

Condition of woman with BMI of less than 12 ‘deeply worrying’, says judge

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, heard an emergency application fron the Health Service Executive concerning the woman. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, heard an emergency application fron the Health Service Executive concerning the woman. Photograph: Chris Maddaloni/Collins

 

A young woman with severe anorexia nervosa and a body mass index (BMI) count under 12 which is considered by doctors as “clinically dangerous” may be fed via tubes against her wishes following an order of the High Court.

The woman, aged in her 20s, was subject of a similar court order last year and was later fed through a tube.

The president of the High Court, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, heard an emergency application fron the Health Service Executive concerning the woman today and described the woman’s situation as “deeply worrying”. The woman’s parents supported the application.

“We can only hope and pray this will turn things around,” the judge said.

Mr Justice Kearns allowed the HSE re-enter the proceedings concerning the woman and granted orders allowing her to be transferred to a general hospital from another facility for the purposes of feeding her.

A consultant psychiatrist told the judge the woman has a BMI under 12 and her condition has gradually deteriorated. She was not taking the nutrients she required and also exercising to excess, he said.

The woman lacks insight and does not think she suffers from anorexia nervosa, the psychiatist said.

The woman needed to be fed nutrients and the feeding programme would need to last about eight weeks, he added.

The woman’s father told the court he and his wife supported the application to have his daughter transferred to a hospital for refeeding purposes

The case will come before the court again on March 11th.

Last May, Mr Justice Kearns issued a feeding order after being told the woman weighed 27kg at that point and was at “grave risk” of malnutrition and irreversible liver injury due to severe anorexia nervosa.

Doctors treating the woman, who has suffered from eating disorders since she was aged 12, believed the feeding treatment was vital to safeguard her life and health and to ensure she was taken out of “grave danger.”

In October, the court was told the woman’s situation had impproved and no further orders were required.