Anorexic patient dies after she was given full control of her own treatment

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Uncategorised on Thursday, August 14th, 2014

An inquest has recently heard how a young girl died from anorexia after she was given full control of her own treatment once she reached 18 years of age. It was reported that the 18 year old who had battled anorexia for 5 years died from a cardiac arrest after starving herself to barely 5 stone.

An inquest has recently heard how a young girl died from anorexia after she was given full control of her own treatment once she reached 18 years of age.  It was reported that the 18 year old who had battled anorexia for 5 years died from a cardiac arrest after starving herself to barely 5 stone.

The girl was admitted to hospital when her weight became so low that she was unable to walk but it appears that after 11 days doctors deemed her fit to be discharged home. As the mental health system classified the patient as an adult this allowed her to make decisions regarding her treatment. The inquest heard that following her discharge the girl’s weight fell drastically when she refused to follow an eating plan that she had previously agreed with doctors.

It appears that the mental health team decided the patient should be classed as an adult as she was close to her 18th birthday. This meant that her parents were no longer privy to information regarding their daughter’s care and therefore were unaware that she had attended only 3 appointments prior to cancelling further treatment.

The deputy coroner stated that he would be writing to the health service about his findings and would raise the issue as to whether restoring an individuals  physical health by re – feeding, might take a patient beyond simple medical fitness, to a state where they may be more able to participate in decisions about their care.

The case raises issues for mental health services and the transition from adolescent to adult care. This girl was classed as an adult as she reached her 18th birthday with all that that entails in terms of treatment decisions. However, the previous day she had been treated as an adolescent and decisions would have been taken in her best interests in the knowledge of her parents. It is clear from this case that the current system of transition is not effective particularly for mental health services.

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