"Is she fit to sign, doctor?"--practical ethical issues in assessing the competence of elderly patients

Med J Aust. 1993 Sep 20;159(6):400-3. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.1993.tb137916.x.


The competence of elderly people to participate in medical decision-making is often called into question. This article explores the concept of competence as it relates to elderly people, and outlines the guiding ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence. Practical guidelines are offered on how competence can be assessed and some avoidable pitfalls are highlighted.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Cognition
  • Decision Making
  • Environment
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Mental Competency* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Patient Participation*