The medical literature devotes little attention to the application of competency to the general medical patient. Commonly, the only cases recognized as necessitating a competency evaluation are overtly psychotic patients, patients requiring written informed consent, and those patients who refuse treatments strongly recommended by their physician. Clarifying terminology and redefining competency provides a practical screening method for assessing competency in all patients. When physicians neglect the evaluation of competency, patient autonomy is compromised. Not only are all physicians capable of performing a competency evaluation, they are ethically and professionally required to do so.
Tabb, MD, Seth E. and West, MD, Scott A.
"The Forgotten Evaluation: Taking Competence Seriously,"
Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry:
2, Article 9.
Available at: http://jdc.jefferson.edu/jeffjpsychiatry/vol12/iss2/9