Over the years, cell phones have evolved from purse-size behemoths to the size of a wristwatch. In addition, they have moved from basically a portable telephone to the smartphones of today. Both the changes in size and the added functions have resulted in new concerns for physicians.
“We had a family meeting about two years ago to discuss a patient, and I noticed someone was recording the conversation on their iPhone without asking me if it was okay,” says Ali Seifi, MD, FACP, assistant professor of neurosurgery/neurocritical care at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). “I wasn’t sure if it was legal for the family to be recording these discussions about the patient. I also did not know if I could ask them to get my permission first.”
Smartphone Ownership Growth
These concerns are only going to grow. A fact sheet issued by the Pew Research Center in 2014 notes that 58% of Americans owned a smartphone and that level rose to 83% among young adults. These can be used as recording devices at the touch of a button. Smart watches can make a surreptitious recording of conversations even less noticeable.1