Medical Informed Consent > Incompetents > Adjudicated

Legally incompetent Persons

A legally incompetent person is recognized as such by court order and this applies to all aspects of daily living, not just medical care. Incapable of making an informed decision is the appropriate term to use when physician finds that a patient does not have the capacity necessary to understand the risks and benefits of proposed medical care, and, as such, cannot consent to that medical care due to an inability to make an informed decision. This means that an individual has been found unable to adequately evaluate the possible risks and benefits of a procedure versus those of an alternative therapy, or is unable to fully understand the proposed treatment itself. One with dysphasia or other inability to communicate but is otherwise mentally competent does not meet this criteria and should not be deemed incompetent for these reasons.

Those patients adjudicated incompetent have been found by a court to lack the ability to receive or evaluate information to the point where they are either unable to provide for their own health or safety; or unable manage their financial affairs or provide for their dependents. A guardian may be appointed to be responsible for these patients, including making decisions regarding their health and safety. In the event of treatments required that would permanently affect the patient's bodily integrity, a court order may be required in addition to the guardian's consent. Some courts have found that even an incompetent patient has the right to decide on life sustaining therapy.


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