Clinical Utility of the Hopkins Competency Assessment Test on an Inpatient Geropsychiatry Unit
ABSTRACT This study examined the clinical use of routine administration of the Hopkins Competency Assessment Test on an inpatient geropsychiatry unit. The purpose was to determine whether the Hopkins Competency Assessment Test results influenced the psychiatrist's capacity assessment or confidence in that determination. The test was administered to all patients admitted voluntarily during an 18-week period. The attending psychiatrist determined treatment consent capacity and rated confidence in that determination, before and after review of the test results. Fifty seven patients were assessed. After review of the test results, the psychiatrist's capacity rating changed in only 2 (3.5%) cases. However, the test increased the psychiatrist's confidence ratings, particularly among the patients with cognitive impairment. The Hopkins Competency Assessment Test is not suited for routine administration among geropsychiatry inpatients. However, the test may serve a role as a supplementary tool for assessing treatment consent capacity among patients with evidence of cognitive impairment.
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ABSTRACT: When a patient's mental capacity to make decisions is open to question, the physician often calls in a psychiatrist to help make the determination. The psychiatrist's conclusions may be taken to a court to determine the patient's legal competency. In this article, the author presents several clinical criteria psychiatrists may use when determining patients' mental capacities. The author discusses two critical ethical questions psychiatrists should consider when they use this criteria: (1) whether they should use a fixed or sliding standard and (2) if they adopt a sliding standard, what clinical factors should be given the greatest weight. The author also discusses whether psychiatrists should take initiative to obtain a second opinion from another psychiatrist or mental health professional. Finally, the author discusses research regarding patients who are likely to have more impaired capacity for performing executive functions, patients requesting surgical procedures that are ethically without precedent, and patients possibly having inner awareness under conditions that previously were not considered possible.Psychiatry 08/2009; 6(7):15-23.