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Title: Competency and Capacity: The Legal and Medical Interface
Contributor(s): Purser, Kelly Jayne (author); Magner, Eilis (supervisor); Madison, Jeanne  (supervisor)
Conferred Date: 2013
Copyright Date: 2012
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Abstract: Balancing the competing interests of autonomy and protection of individuals is an escalating challenge confronting an ageing Australian society. Legal and medical professionals are increasingly being asked to determine whether individuals are legally competent/capable to make their own testamentary and substitute decision-making, that is financial and/or personal/ health care, decisions. No consistent and transparent competency/capacity assessment paradigm currently exists in Australia. Consequently, assessments are currently being undertaken on an ad hoc basis which is concerning as Australia's population ages and issues of competency/capacity increase. The absence of nationally accepted competency/capacity assessment guidelines and supporting principles results in legal and medical professionals involved with competency/capacity assessment implementing individual processes tailored to their own abilities. Legal and medical approaches differ both between and within the professions. The terminology used also varies. The legal practitioner is concerned with whether the individual has the legal ability to make the decision. A medical practitioner assesses fluctuations in physical and mental abilities. The problem is that the terms competency and capacity are used interchangeably resulting in confusion about what is actually being assessed. The terminological and methodological differences subsequently create miscommunication and misunderstanding between the professions. Consequently, it is not necessarily a simple solution for a legal professional to seek the opinion of a medical practitioner when assessing testamentary and/or substitute decision-making competency/capacity. This research investigates the effects of the current inadequate testamentary and substitute decision-making assessment paradigm and whether there is a more satisfactory approach. This exploration is undertaken within a framework of therapeutic jurisprudence which promotes principles fundamentally important in this context.
Publication Type: Thesis Doctoral
Field of Research Codes: 180119 Law and Society
Rights Statement: Copyright 2012 - Kelly Jayne Purser
HERDC Category Description: T2 Thesis - Doctorate by Research
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