Bioethics Blogs

Coping with Capacity: Determining the Limits of Patient Decision Making

The 2016 UAMS Intensive Healthcare Ethics Workshop is titled Coping with Capacity: Determining the Limits of Patient Decision Making.  Submit your abstract by January 29, 2016.

Respect for autonomy is a central principle in medical ethics. Adults are presumed to have the ability to make intelligent decisions for themselves, and we are obligated to respect those decisions. However, the presumption of autonomy may not hold in every case—some individuals lack decisional capacity.

Importantly, then, we must ask: What is decisional capacity, and what does it mean to lack capacity? How can we determine when someone has “lost capacity,” whether or not they can get it back? Who is best positioned to evaluate capacity? If a person is deemed to lack capacity, how should s/he be treated?  What ethical and legal implications follow when someone lacks capacity?

The UAMS Intensive Healthcare Ethics Workshop for 2016 will bring together scholars, clinicians, and ethics committee members to discuss ethical issues related to decision making capacity. The workshop is designed for a limited number of participants in order to be highly interactive, and will include keynote speakers, small group sessions, simulation-based learning, and paper and poster presentations.

Professionals and students from all disciplines are invited to submit paper or poster proposals related to the theme of decision-making capacity in the healthcare setting. Topics of interest include but are not limited to:
•    The role of different healthcare providers and professionals in capacity determination
•     Best practices in capacity determination
•     Considering capacity in minors
•     The biological basis of capacity
•     Legal issues regarding decisional capacity
•     The mature minor doctrine
•     Clinical ethics consultations when capacity is in question
•     Ethical norms related to decision making capacity
•     Decisional capacity as a subject of philosophical analysis

In recognition of the interactive nature of this workshop, paper proposals must include a description of the presenter’s plan for engaging and interacting with the audience.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.