Decision-Making Capacity

  • Jessica WoanEmail author
  • Kara J. Mitchell


Many diagnostic and treatment options are available in medicine. Determining whether these interventions support a patient’s values or goals requires patient participation in the decision-making. This is the process of informed consent. Decision-making capacity is the patient’s ability to understand and appreciate the nature and consequences of health care treatment decisions. Demonstrating medical decision-making capacity is a required element in the process of informed consent. In this chapter, we will discuss the process of determining decision-making capacity and factors that may influence a patient’s medical decision-making capacity, including “pseudo-incapacity.”


Medical decision-making capacity Informed consent Competence Pseudo-incapacity Surgery Consent Preoperative Perioperative 



Suzanne B. Murray, MD; Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of Washington Medical Center | Puget Sound Veterans Health AdministrationSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal MedicineUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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