Assessment of competence to complete advance directives: validation of a patient centred approach.
OBJECTIVE: To develop a patient centred approach for the assessment of competence to complete advance directives ("living wills") of elderly people with cognitive impairment. DESIGN: Semistructured interviews. SETTING: Oxfordshire. SUBJECTS: 50 elderly volunteers living in the community, and 50 patients with dementia on first referral from primary care. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Psychometric properties of competence assessment. RESULTS: This patient centred approach for assessing competence to complete advance directives can discriminate between elderly persons living in the community and elderly patients with dementia. The procedure has good interrater (r=0.95) and test-retest (r=0.97) reliability. Validity was examined by relating this approach with a global assessment of competence to complete an advance directive made by two of us (both specialising in old age psychiatry). The data were also used to determine the best threshold score for discriminating between those competent and those incompetent to complete an advance directive. CONCLUSION: A patient centred approach to assess competence to complete advance directives can be reliably and validly used in routine clinical practice. (+info)
Informed consent for antipsychotic medication.
OBJECTIVE: To determine family physicians' attitudes and practices regarding documentation of informed consent for antipsychotic medication. DESIGN: Pilot cross-sectional study. SETTING: Teaching and non-teaching hospitals in Toronto, Ont. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty family physicians were selected in equal numbers from teaching and non-teaching hospitals with no more than five physicians from a given hospital. Participants were treating at least 10 patients with antipsychotic medication. Participants' mean age was 44.3 years; 83% were men. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Documentation of consent and of disclosure of consent for antipsychotic medication in patients' charts. RESULTS: Documentation was found in only 13% of charts. Whether it was there or not did not correlate with information disclosed, score on an attitude scale, or demographics. Physicians who found documentation time-consuming were less likely to document. Most physicians disclosed reasons for antipsychotic medication, but less than half described tardive dyskinesia, a potentially irreversible movement disorder that affects about 25% of patients on long-term treatment. CONCLUSIONS: The low rate of documentation observed in this sample was consistent with reports of similar samples and might indicate that family physicians are unaware of recommendations for documentation or simply do not have time to keep abreast of current recommendations. Many physicians thought signed consent forms unnecessary for psychotic patients, and even more believed seeking consent for antipsychotic medications would increase patient anxiety. (+info)
Sterilisation of incompetent mentally handicapped persons: a model for decision making.
Doctors are regularly confronted with requests for sterilisation of mentally handicapped people who cannot give consent for themselves. They ought to act in a medical vacuum because there doesn't exist a consensus about a model for decision making on this matter. In this article a model for decision making is proposed, based on a review of the literature and our own research data. We have attempted to select and classify certain factors which could enable us to arrive at an ethically justifiable method of making a medical decision. In doing so we distinguish two major criteria: heredity and parenting competence, and six minor criteria: conception risk, IQ, age, personality, medical aspects and prognosis and finally support and guidance for the mentally handicapped person. The major criteria give rise to a "situation of necessity". In this situation the physician is confronted with a conflict of values and interests. The minor criteria are of an entirely different ethical order. They can only be considered once the major criteria have created a "situation of necessity". Ultimately it comes down to deciding whether the benefits of sterilisation outweigh the drawbacks and whether the means are appropriate to the end, where efficient contraception is the end and irreversible sterilisation is the means. (+info)
A problem for the idea of voluntary euthanasia.
I question whether, in those cases where physician-assisted suicide is invoked to alleviate unbearable pain and suffering, there can be such a thing as voluntary euthanasia. The problem is that when a patient asks to die under such conditions there is good reason to think that the decision to die is compelled by the pain, and hence not freely chosen. Since the choice to die was not made freely it is inadvisable for physicians to act in accordance with it, for this may be contrary to the patient's genuine wishes. Thus, what were thought to be cases of voluntary euthanasia might actually be instances of involuntary euthanasia. (+info)
Advance directives are the solution to Dr Campbell's problem for voluntary euthanasia.
Dr Neil Campbell suggests that when patients suffering extremes of protracted pain ask for help to end their lives, their requests should be discounted as made under compulsion. I contend that the doctors concerned should be referred to and then act upon advance directives made by those patients when of sound and calm mind and afflicted by no such intolerable compulsion. (+info)
Adversity and psychosocial competence of South African children.
Black children in South Africa commonly experience low socioeconomic status and community violence. Parents (N = 625) in a longitudinal study of urbanization responded to structured questionnaires related to resilience, affability, maturity, and school readiness of their six-year olds. SES was found to have an inverse and linear relation to competence at age six; the relationship to violence was curvilinear, with children from moderately safe communities achieving better outcomes than those from very safe or very unsafe ones. (+info)
Consent to treatment and the mentally incapacitated adult.
Doctors are sometimes faced with adult patients who lack the mental capacity to consent to treatment. In a questionnaire, 120 doctors in a district general hospital were asked what action they would take if such a patient had a clear need for elective treatment. Of the 89 who replied, 57 said they would seek consent from relatives or others; 11 of these, nevertheless, stated that treatment could proceed without such consent. These results, and inquiries about other options, pointed to widespread misunderstanding of the law. In English law, no one can give legally valid consent on behalf of another adult. When an individual is unable to give consent, common law allows a doctor to protect a patient's best interests by treating him or her in accordance with a responsible body of medical opinion. (+info)
The public's view of the competence, dangerousness, and need for legal coercion of persons with mental health problems.
OBJECTIVES: The authors examined Americans' opinions about financial and treatment competence of people with mental health problems, potential for harm to self or others, and the use of legal means to force treatment. METHODS: The 1996 General Social Survey provided interview data with a nationally representative sample (n = 1444). Respondents were given a vignette based on diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, major depression, alcohol dependence, or drug dependence, or a "control" case. RESULTS: The specific nature of the problem was the most important factor shaping public reaction. Respondents viewed those with "troubles," alcohol dependence, or depression as able to make treatment decisions. Most reported that persons with alcohol or drug problems or schizophrenia cannot manage money and are likely to be violent toward others. Respondents indicated a willingness to coerce individuals into treatment. Respondent and other case characteristics rarely affected opinions. CONCLUSIONS: Americans report greater concern with individuals who have drug or alcohol problems than with persons who have other mental health problems. Evaluations of dangerousness and coercion indicate a continuing need for public education. (+info)