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Laws 2015, 4(2), 164-172;

Evaluating Decision Making Capacity in Older Individuals: Does the Law Give a Clue?

Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine & Law, Florida State University, College of Medicine and College of Law, 1115 W. Call Street, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4300, USA
Academic Editors: Kelly Purser and Shih-Ning Then
Received: 12 February 2015 / Revised: 23 April 2015 / Accepted: 20 May 2015 / Published: 22 May 2015
Full-Text   |   PDF [166 KB, uploaded 22 May 2015]


Adequate cognitive and emotional capacity is essential to autonomous decision making by adult medical patients. Society often attaches legal consequences to decisional capacity evaluations. Even when the legal system is not formally involved in the competency evaluation of a particular individual, clinical practice and ethical conduct occur within and are informed by legal parameters. Using relevant statutory, court rule, and judicial opinion examples from a representative jurisdiction within the United States, this article argues that the law seldom provides much meaningful guidance to health care and human services providers to assist them regarding the content of capacity evaluation. The article concludes by asking how society ought to respond to the paucity of helpful guidance provided by the law in the decisional capacity evaluation context. View Full-Text
Keywords: legal; jurisprudence; guardianship; capacity; competence; ethics legal; jurisprudence; guardianship; capacity; competence; ethics
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Kapp, M.B. Evaluating Decision Making Capacity in Older Individuals: Does the Law Give a Clue? Laws 2015, 4, 164-172.

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