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serious concerns

Hospital secures court orders to stop two patients with dementia from leaving

One of the patients set off a fire alarm and has severe paranoia.

A HOSPITAL HAS secured High Court orders preventing two of its patients with severe dementia from leaving the facility.

In separate and unrelated cases the hospital sought the orders over concerns that two of its inpatients, a woman in her late 80s and a man in his late 70s, who have severe cognitive difficulties arising out of their dementia, may try to leave.

The hospital, in a case where none of the parties can be identified for legal reasons, had serious concerns about the health and safety of both patients if they were to leave, and asked for orders allowing it to keep them as inpatients.

Medical experts who have treated both patients say it is in their best interests that they are not allowed leave the hospital where they are receiving the care and support they require.

Barrister David Leahy, counsel for the hospital, told Mr Justice Michael Hanna that the applications arose following a recent Court of Appeal judgment which found there is no common law power permitting a hospital preventing patients with conditions like dementia leaving if they so desire.

He said the orders, which are among the first of their kind to be sought from the courts, were being applied for in the best interests of the patients’ wellbeing.

Set off fire alarm

In the case of the woman, she was admitted to the hospital in recent days and had no insight into her severe difficulties and has severe paranoia.

Leahy said that since her admission she had been disruptive, thought the staff were gangsters and had set off a fire alarm in the hospital, threatening to leave and return home. She insisted she can still drive despite not having motor tax or insurance. When her car was immobilised she had gone and bought another car.

He said the social work team that had been dealing with her was very concerned about her financial affairs and an application to make her a ward of court was pending.

In relation to the male patient, the court heard he has severe cognitive communication difficulties, is highly agitated and his family have been unable to cope with him. He had recently injured himself in a fall and had a tendency to wander and there were fears he could leave the hospital.

Judge Hanna made orders in both cases allowing the hospital prevent the patients from leaving. Both applications were supported by the patients’ next of kin.

The judge, who in the case of each of the patients appointed a ‘guardian ad litem’ to look after their interests during the proceedings, adjourned the actions to a date in September.

Comments are closed due to ongoing legal proceedings.

Aodhan O Faolain