“If you want to protect yourself in two-party states, you can include a clause in your patient paperwork or on waiting room signage stating that recording is not allowed without your consent,” notes Dr. Sastow. “Check with a local attorney before instituting this since the laws may require certain wording, font size, etc.”
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These interventions may not work as well in one-party states because only the person recording would need to give consent. However, some jurisdictions may limit the admissibility of the recordings should there be a court action.
Practitioners should begin thinking about what their personal views are on patients taping interactions in general and doing so secretly in particular. Working through the personal and ethical issues beforehand should make the encounter go smoother when (not if) it happens.
“I don’t think we are to the point yet where we should assume all, or even a small percentage, of our patients are recording the medical encounter,” says Dr. Hausmann. “But I also can’t say I would be surprised when it happens. As the technology gets smaller and smaller to where you can record from something as unobtrusive as an Apple Watch, it is very probable that some of our patients will be doing it. However, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to increased compliance, better understanding of their disease or more litigation.”
Kurt Ullman is a freelance writer based in Indiana.
- Pew Research Center. Mobile technology fact sheet.
- Rodriguez M, Morrow J, Seifi A. Ethical implications of patients and families secretly recording conversations with physicians. JAMA. 2015 Apr 28;313(16):1615–1616.