Special Article| Volume 19, ISSUE 2, P106-109, February 2018

Protocol for the Assessment of Patient Capacity to Make End-of-Life Treatment Decisions

Published:December 26, 2017DOI:


      Patients' right to decide what happens to their bodies, especially around the end of life, is enshrined in legislation across the world, but questions often arise about whether a patient is capable of meaningfully participating in such decisions. Because of uncertainties about capacity, care providers and administrative agencies often must decide whether to honor, or even to elicit, patients' wishes. General decision-making capacity has been well studied, but few clear protocols exist for ascertaining capacity at the end of life. Without clear guidelines about how to assess capacity, medical staff may ignore assessment and operate from invalid assumptions. In the interests of protecting patients' agency, we propose a straightforward protocol for assessing capacity to make decisions about end-of-life interventions.


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