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Medical Decision Making in Assessing Capacity


Medical Decision Making in Assessing Capacity

Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine
Pamela Basehore, MD, Robert Ruchinskas, MD, Martin Forsberg, MD
Geriatric Education Center (GEC)
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
POGOe Id: 
Date Posted: 
Date Reviewed/Updated for Clinical Accuracy: 

This GeriPod broadcast is the fifth episode in a six-part series on Mental Health and Aging. This podcast focuses on assessing medical decision making capacity in older adults. The terms capacity versus competence are discussed as well as some key elements to consider when assessing an older adult’s medical decision making capability.

Educational objectives: 
  1. Describe the meaning of capacity assessment and its key elements in medical decision making.
  2. Describe approaches to capacity assessment and risk identification.
  3. Explain the implications for a diagnosis of dementia on assessing capacity.
  4. Apply knowledge of capacity assessment using practical patient case examples.  
Additional information/Special implementation requirements or guidelines: 

This podcast can also be accessed at http:/ Click on the listen to podcast link on the NJISA homepage, complete the survey and choose number 5 podcast in the series of 6.

This product has been reviewed by an education workgroup committee of 6 UMDNJ faculty-Geriatricians and Geriatric Psychiatrists.

Estimated time to complete: 
30 minutes
Conflict of Interest Disclosure: 
No, I (we) have nothing to disclose.
Already Expired Email Date: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 2:55am
Already Expired Email 1 month date: 
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 1:35pm
Expired Email Date: 
Friday, March 30, 2018 - 6:22pm
Contact Person/Corresponding Author:
Claire DiVito

Suggested Citation:
Dr Robert Ruchinskas, Dr. Martin Forsberg and Pamela Basehore. Medical Decision Making in Assessing Capacity. POGOe - Portal of Geriatrics Online Education; 2011 Available from:


Submitted by chowe on
Excellent discussion of difference between competence and capacity. Engagingly describes how clinicians actually assess decision-making capacity almost with every clinical encounter. Good explanation of powers of attorney, proxies etc.
Submitted by Gd3t67f on

I think this presentation is absolutely the best explanation of the decisional capacity assessment I've ever heard. I'm a consulting psychiatrist at a major midwestern academic medical center and I'm called daily to conduct decisional capacity assessments. The only improvement I can think of would be a video presentation of the same topic. Many thanks for this outstanding contribution to medical education.

James Amos, MD

Blog: The Practical Psychosomaticist