UK

Court Orders Teen To Be 'Force Fed' After Persistent Vomiting In Landmark Case

03/04/2014 15:00 BST

A sick teenager with mental health problems was said to be "doing well" after a High Court judge ruled she could be fed through a tube.

Mr Justice Hayden gave doctors permission to give the 15-year-old girl nutrition and fluids through a tube into her stomach following a private hearing in the Court of Protection in January.

Detail of the case has emerged in a written ruling by the judge published on a legal website.

The judge was told that the youngster had suffered a dramatic weight loss as a result of persistent vomiting and weighed less than six stones.

Doctors had not found an "organic cause" for the girl's vomiting.

A specialist had suggested she might be suffering from "a form of fabricated and induced illness".

The specialist also raised the possibility that the girl was "colluding with her mother".

Mr Justice Hayden said the girl had been in hospital for nearly a year and confined to a bed for several weeks.

The judge described the teenager's situation as "extreme" and said he had to do all he could to ensure she had the best "attempt of survival".

He sanctioned the use of reasonable force to ensure that a tube was put in place and sanctioned sedation if it proved necessary.

The judge also authorised a "suspension of contact" between the girl and her mother for a "period".

A spokesman for the judge said today: "The young person in the case is doing well and has made good progress."

The girl's case is due to be reviewed at a court hearing in the near future.

Doctors had asked the judge to rule that it was lawful and in the girl's best interests for a tube to be inserted.

Mr Justice Hayden said the girl had objected - saying the tube "chokes me when vomiting" and was "like torture", but a psychiatrist said the youngster lacked "real appreciation that unless immediate action is taken she will die".

The judge said the girl's mother was resistant to the tube, but he concluded it was in the patient's best interests to give doctors the go-ahead.

The specialist had said the extent to which the girl was "colluding with her mother" remained to be seen, said the judge.

Mr Justice Hayden said the girl and the mother should have a "rest from each other's company" to give feeding through a tube the "best chance of success".