Informed Consent (cont.)
Decision-making capacity is often referred to by the legal term competency. It is one of the most important components of informed consent. Decision-making capacity is not black and white. You may have the capacity to make some decisions, but not others.
- The components of decision-making capacity are as follows:
- The ability to understand the options
- The ability to understand the consequences of choosing each of the options
- The ability to evaluate the personal cost and benefit of each of the consequences and relate them to your own set of values and priorities
- If you are not able to do all of the components, family members, court-appointed guardians, or others (as determined by state law) may act as "surrogate decision-makers" and make decisions for you.
- To have decision-making capacity does not mean that you, as the patient, will always make "good" decisions, or decisions that your doctor agrees with. Likewise, making a "bad" decision does not mean that you, as patient, are "incompetent" or do not have decision-making capacity.
- Decision-making capacity, or competency, simply means that you can understand and explain the options, their implications, and give a rational reason why you would decide on a particular option instead of the others.
Richard A Wagner, MD, PhD
Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD
Jeter (Jay) Pritchard Taylor III, MD
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