How docs should respond to patients who want to hit 'record'

There are several valid reasons a patient or family member may wish to take an audio recording of a medical visit, but many doctors are uncomfortable with being on the record in this manner. A recent article from the Washington Post discusses both sides of the issue, as well as how physicians can navigate the risks associated with either allowing or not allowing patients to hit "record."

Ideally, patients who want to record visits would ask permission and choose to do so for the right reasons, such as to share information with caregivers or review important instructions. A doctor's refusal to allow a patient to record can make patients feel as though trust is not a two-way street.

But the reality is that once a patient records an encounter on a smartphone, the physician loses control of that record and how it's used. Even if it's not fodder for a lawsuit, there's risk of the patient's privacy being compromised.

"What's lacking here is a policy that says we encourage you to record, but please take good care of this record--we don't want it to appear on the Internet or social media," Glyn Elwyn, M.D., a scientist at the Dartmouth Center for Health Care Delivery Science, told the newspaper. 

But although standardized policies on this issue are not yet widespread, practices can develop their own policies or contracts with patients that encourage them to record responsibly. A lack of flexibility on the issue, however, may only drive people to record secretly, which can carry even more risk.

To learn more:
- read the article