Ethics Glossary

Decisional Capacity

A patient’s ability (1) to receive information regarding the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a specific treatment, (2) to understand and process this information, (3) to deliberate, and (4) to make, communicate, and explain choices Decisional capacity is determined by a physician, whereas competency is a legal determination rendered by a judge An individual’s decisional capacity can fluctuate and can depend on the complexity of the decision being made.