Evaluating Medical Decision-Making Capacity in Practice.

08:00 EDT 1st July 2018 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Evaluating Medical Decision-Making Capacity in Practice."

Medical decision-making capacity is the ability of a patient to understand the benefits and risks of, and the alternatives to, a proposed treatment or intervention (including no treatment). Capacity is the basis of informed consent. Patients have medical decision-making capacity if they can demonstrate understanding of the situation, appreciation of the consequences of their decision, and reasoning in their thought process, and if they can communicate their wishes. Capacity is assessed intuitively at every medical encounter and is usually readily apparent. However, a more formal capacity evaluation should be considered if there is reason to question a patient's decision-making abilities. Such reasons include an acute change in mental status, refusal of a clearly beneficial recommended treatment, risk factors for impaired decision making, or readily agreeing to an invasive or risky procedure without adequately considering the risks and benefits. Any physician can evaluate capacity, and a structured approach is best. Several formal assessment tools are available to help with the capacity evaluation. Consultation with a psychiatrist may be helpful in some cases, but the final determination on capacity is made by the treating physician. If a patient is found not to have capacity, a surrogate decision maker should be identified and consulted. If the patient is unable to give consent and identifying a surrogate decision maker will result in a delay that might increase the risk of death or serious harm, physicians can provide emergency care without formal consent.


Journal Details

This article was published in the following journal.

Name: American family physician
ISSN: 1532-0650
Pages: 40-46


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