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Capacity Determination May 7 th, 2008 Alan Sanders, Ph.D. Director, Center for Ethics Saint Joseph’s Health System System Ethicist, Catholic Health East.

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Presentation on theme: "Capacity Determination May 7 th, 2008 Alan Sanders, Ph.D. Director, Center for Ethics Saint Joseph’s Health System System Ethicist, Catholic Health East."— Presentation transcript:

1 Capacity Determination May 7 th, 2008 Alan Sanders, Ph.D. Director, Center for Ethics Saint Joseph’s Health System System Ethicist, Catholic Health East

2 Etiquette Press * 6 to mute; Press # 6 to unmute Keep your phone on mute unless you are dialoging with the presenter Never place phone on hold If you do not want to be called on please check the red mood button on the lower left of screen

3 Overview The foundations of capacity determination Delineation of decision-making capacity for healthcare The main components of decision- making capacity Assessing decision-making capacity

4 Illustrative Case Mary is a 48 year-old married mother of two with frequent admissions to the hospital over the last few years with cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal issues. She is also bi-polar and has a history of alcoholism. Numerous times clinicians have documented her as a “failure to thrive”. The clinician recommends a colonoscopy to help determine the cause of her gastrointestinal issues. Mary refuses saying she has been poked and prodded enough times. If it is her time to go, it is her time to go.

5 The Foundations of Capacity Determination Respect for Human Dignity –Protection –Right to accept or refuse treatment Principle of Subsidiarity –Participation in the process

6 Delineation of Capacity Match between a persons abilities and the demands of the decision Patients are presumed to have capacity unless they demonstrate otherwise NOT the same as: –competence –impaired mental states Decision specific

7 Main Components of Capacity The ability to understand the relevant information to make a treatment decision The ability to appreciate the importance of that information to one’s own situation, including risks and benefits of options The ability to reason about options consistently with one’s beliefs, values, etc. The ability to express a choice, either verbally or via another means

8 Assessing Capacity Assess the patient’s four main abilities Attempt to maximize patient’s capacity Give time and reassess

9 Questions to Consider Does the patient understand what is wrong and what the proposed treatments are? Does the patient understand the benefits and risks of difference proposed treatments or no treatment? Can the patient reason about the medical information and relate this information to his or her personal values? –Is this reasoning consistent over time and with their values? Can the patient communicate in some fashion why he or she has made a certain decision?

10 Questions to Consider How has the diagnosis affect you, personally, spiritually? What reasons are important to you in accepting or refusing treatment? What are your sources of strength, such as loved ones, friends, or faith, and how have these influenced your decision?

11 Factors the Influence Assessment Religious and cultural beliefs Reasoning and communication style Disagree with physician Appearance They’re crazy!

12 Factors that Might Trigger an Assessment Refuse routine or life sustaining treatment Psychological Issues Consent to questionable/very risky procedures Diagnosis Medications

13 Determined Incapacitated Enter determination in medical chart including: –Nature –Etiology –Probable duration Inform and discuss with patient Talk to family/loved ones/surrogate

14 Other Points to Consider Coercion Decision making structures –Culture –Family Minors

15 Illustrative Case Mary is a 48 year-old married mother of two with frequent admissions to the hospital over the last few years with cardiac, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal issues. She is also bi-polar and has a history of alcoholism. Numerous times clinicians have documented her as a “failure to thrive”. The clinician recommends a colonoscopy to help determine the cause of her gastrointestinal issues. Mary refuses saying she has been poked and prodded enough times. If it is her time to go, it is her time to go.

16 Resources Grisso T., Appelbaum P.S. Assessing Capacity to Consent to Treatment: A Guide for Physicians and other Health Professionals. New York: Oxford University Press, New York Task Force on Life and Law. “Determining Incapacity.” _force/health_care_proxy/guidebook/ _force/health_care_proxy/guidebook/


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