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Court gives hospital temporary powers to isolate uncooperative elderly patient with Covid-19

The man is believed to have a cognitive disability.

Image: Graham Hughes via

THE HIGH COURT has made temporary orders allowing a hospital to isolate an elderly patient with Covid-19, who had been acting in a manner that represented a health risk to others.  

The man, who tested positive for the virus in recent days has an impaired capacity which prevents him from complying with infection control practises, the court heard. 

The court heard that the man is uncooperative with staying in his hospital room, has been aggressive and agitated with staff, and on occasions has punched and bitten those trying to provide him with care.  

He also has been coughing openly when out on the hospital corridors, and cannot follow instructions in respect of hand hygiene.

Neither the man, who is aged in his eighties and is believed to have a cognitive disability, nor the hospital in which he is an in-patient can be identified for legal reasons.  

The orders were granted on an ex-parte basis this afternoon by Justice Mark Heslin, who accepted that a public health issue had been raised.

The judge made a number of temporary orders including one allowing the hospital to detain the man in a specific isolation area, and away from other patients.

Seeking the orders David Leahy Bl for the hospital said that the man was being treated in the hospital arising out of a physical injury he sustained.

After he developed a cough, he tested positive for Covid-19.

Those treating the man say he lacks the capacity to understand the significance of his diagnosis, how contagious the virus is and the risk it poses to others, counsel said.  

Counsel said that other patients did not approve of the man’s coughing in the environs of the ward and there were fears that others may harm him. 

The hospital took steps to limit the risks posed by the man, but he does not seem to understand the basis on why restrictions against him are being sought, counsel added.

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It was in the man’s best interests, and the interests of staff and other patients that orders limiting the man’s movements are granted, counsel said. 

Counsel said that the man’s family were supporting the hospital’s application. 

The court also directed that the man be independently assessed by a medical visitor, and appointed a person to act as the man’s guardian at litem. 

It is also envisaged that an application will be made to have the man made a ward of court. 

The case will return before the court later this month.

Comments are closed as legal proceedings are ongoing.

About the author:

Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh

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