Court rules woman with anorexia can be tube-fed

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, currently weighs just 36kg (5.7 stone) 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 hospital says she does not believe her condition is so serious that her life is at risk and she lacks 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 sudden death unless she gets the nutrition she requires via the tube.

The orders were granted following an urgent hearing before Mr Justice Robert Haughton, who was satisfied the woman lacks capacity to give consent to treatment.

The judge, acknowledging the situation is “quite critical” said the orders are in her “best interests”.

When the matter returns to court on January 15 an application will be made before the President of the High Court to make the young woman a ward of court.


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