Volume 30, Issue 1 (January 1985)
Physicians' Confusion Demonstrated by Competency Requests
A study was performed at a Veteran's Administration (VA) Hospital of the requests for competency evaluations made by medical and surgical services to a psychiatric consultant service. Since less than half the requests were found to be appropriate and specific, this study emphasizes the need for forensic psychiatrists to educate our nonpsychiatric colleagues about the problems engendered by confusion regarding competency. To do so, psychiatrists as well as other physicians and mental health professionals must be trained in discriminating between different types of competencies and the criteria appropriate for each. Because of continuing legal developments, it is becoming increasingly essential to be precise not only about the specific purpose for a competency request but also about the criteria necessary for evaluating different types of competencies. Forensic psychiatrists could play an important role in the education process to clarify the confusion. This study highlights the need for clarity and education concerning competency issues.