Woman in her 90s cannot be removed from hospital, court rules

Gardaí ordered to assist in bringing woman back to hospital if she is removed

The High Court heard a  dissenting family member told doctors she wants her mother to continue to receive antibiotics and has threatened to move her  to another hospital.

The High Court heard a dissenting family member told doctors she wants her mother to continue to receive antibiotics and has threatened to move her to another hospital.

 

The High Court has made orders preventing an elderly and very ill woman being removed from the hospital where she is a patient.

The woman who cannot be identified for legal reasons is in her 90s and her doctors say the best thing to do for her is give her palliative care.

She has several serious illnesses and conditions including dementia and various infections that had been treated with antibiotics.

She is also non-verbal and immobile, is of unsound mind and incapable of managing her own affairs.

Those treating her say it is no longer ethical to continue to give her antibiotics, because her veins were collapsing and she was unable to have antibiotics administered to her without causing her pain, and she cannot swallow properly.

While most of the woman’s children agree with the medical advice that she should get palliative care, one of the woman’s children, who has been her primary carer, disagrees with that assessment.

At the High Court on Friday David Leahy Bl for the hospital said that the dissenting family member told doctors she wants her mother to continue to receive antibiotics and has threatened to move her mother to another hospital.

Counsel said the hospital was extremely concerned about such a move. The woman’s doctors say that even if she were to continue to get antibiotics she would be unlikely to survive more than two months.

The court heard that any attempt to move her could be very painful for the woman.

Death

It was possible that a move could result in her death on a trolley in a hospital emergency room while waiting to be admitted to another hospital or to be readmitted where she is already a patient, or in the back of an ambulance, the court heard.

Counsel said that doctors treating the woman, and other physicians consulted about her condition, were in agreement the best step for the woman is to receive palliative care.

She was already receiving morphine to ease her pain, and doctors wanted to increase her dosage.

The case came before Ms Justice Carmel Stewart, who said it was “a very sad case”.

After hearing evidence from a consultant doctor who had been treating the woman the judge said she was satisfied to grant the hospital various orders allowing it to treat the woman in a manner that is in the patient’s best interests.

The judge also granted the hospital an order preventing the woman’s removal from the hospital.

Should this occur the court further made an order directing the gardaí to assist in bringing the woman back to the hospital.

The court also said it would permit the woman to be transferred to a hospice if doctors thought that was in the woman’s best interest, and noted that the woman’s other children were in agreement with such a proposal.

The judge also formally opened an inquiry as to whether the woman should be made a ward of court.

The matter was adjourned to a date in September.