The Academy for Eating Disorders Advocates for Early Intervention and Specialized Care for Eating Disorders Treatment in Response to Morristown, NJ Ruling
Newswise — Reston, VA, December 14, 2016 – Morristown, New Jersey, Judge Paul Armstrong made headlines in the case of a 29-year-old woman with a longstanding diagnosis of anorexia nervosa. The judge ruled that the woman, identified only as A.G., had a right to choose palliative care as opposed to force-feeding through a nasogastric tube in conjunction with an experimental program of Ketamine as recommended by the Department of Human Services. A.G. had been receiving intensive psychiatric care in a state-run medical facility since 2014—around two years. This facility is not a specialty eating disorder treatment center. The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) does not have access to details about A.G.’s treatment; however, a listing of faculty areas of specialty at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital does not indicate that any member of the staff had specialized experience or training in treating patients with eating disorders.
Eating disorders are complex psychological disorders with serious medical consequences and commonly require specialized treatment by clinicians with specific training. Anorexia nervosa, in particular, is characterized by a chronic illness course and is associated with the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Although reliably effective treatments for adult anorexia nervosa are still in development, research indicates that early intervention and using evidence-based practice specifically designed for the treatment of the disorder are linked to the most positive outcomes for anorexia nervosa.
Craig Johnson, a leader in the field of eating disorders for over 35 years, founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders, and Chief Science Officer and Director of the Family Institute for Eating Recovery Center in Denver, Colorado, notes that “the experience of A.G. is yet another example underscoring the need to advocate for the development of better treatments and access to specialized care for patients with anorexia. As well, it highlights the potential importance of early diagnosis and immediate implementation of appropriate evidence-based specialized care for patients with eating disorders.”
According to research published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, individuals with eating disorders—anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder — are at increased risk of death compared to the general population. However, despite the potentially fatal consequences of these illnesses, full recovery from an eating disorder at any age can be possible. Early detection and specialized intervention are critical factors that can improve one’s prognosis.
The case of A.G. illustrates the need to examine missed opportunities for early intervention and the need for more eating disorder research. It also highlights the importance of access to specialty care for all individuals with eating disorders as well as an exploration of which treatment options might have been truly in the best interest of A.G. – or anyone else with an eating disorder.
The Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) is an international professional association committed to the leadership in eating disorders research, education, treatment, and prevention. The goal of the AED is to provide global access to knowledge, research, and best treatment practice for eating disorders. For additional information, please contact Elissa Myers at (703) 626-9087 and visit the AED website at www.aedweb.org.