While recording a doctor’s visit can be helpful for many patients, it is not always legal to do so without getting the consent of everyone being recorded.
If your patients want to record their visits with you, they may need your permission first. Ideally, people would always ask before recording others—in reality, this does not always happen and in some states patients do not actually need your consent to record.
If you want to prevent patients from recording, keep in mind that in most states your patients have the right to record without your permission. They may not even need to notify you that you are being recorded, in fact.
This is important to know. While it is essential to be professional at all times in your work, remembering that you may be recorded provides additional motivation.
Some insurance companies may even offer liability insurance discounts if you agree to patients’ requests to record, so that is something else to keep in mind.
Why patients record
Patients may have a variety of reasons for recording, but often they just want to remember everything you say or have information to give their partner, family or caregiver. For some people, taking good notes during an appointment is difficult or impossible.
They may want to hold onto everything valuable from their appointment without risking loss of information. Or, they are tired and feel unwell, so they are concerned they will not listen accurately enough and will miss something.
DCs have a few reasons to welcome recording. Your patients will have a record of what you discussed and may be more likely to act on your advice, too.
Recording can help provide your patients with a way to share their appointment with a family member or caregiver who could not attend.
That said, there are reasons for DCs to be concerned about recordings. While it is probably unlikely, a patient may decide to upload the video or audio online or share it with others. If this is a concern for you, there may not be much you can really do to prevent it if patients decide to post it themselves.
While it is a violation of HIPAA and other privacy laws to post a recording that divulges patient information, if the patient decides to post it, there may not be any violations or penalties at all.
State wiretapping laws
Patients who want to record their doctor’s visits must make sure they understand their state’s wiretapping laws. In 11 states, consent is required from all parties in the recording.
The other 39 states allow recording to occur as long as one party consents. This means that your patient’s consent may be enough legally to allow recording, depending on the state you are in.
It is worthwhile to find out what the specific rules are for your state so you have that information for yourself and anyone who may ask.
Remember, you should do your own due diligence and research how the laws apply in your state. If necessary, consult an attorney to find out how these regulations could impact your business.
How to respond
If you can legally reject recording in your state and you choose to withhold your consent, you can always suggest alternatives to patients who are insistent about recording.
You can provide an after-visit summary, give them access to a robust patient portal with notes from their visits, have brochures or literature with health information they can take home, or provide something else that satisfies patients’ needs to have information in their hands from every visit.
Clearly, recording appointments is a complex issue. The best option for doctors is to find out what regulations their own state and local area has and how these laws apply to their practices.
- Two-Party Consent State—If you are in a state requiring the consent of both or all parties before recording, then you can deny patients your consent to record or you can choose to allow it.
- One-Party Consent—If your state only requires one party’s consent, then you may find patients recording appointments and they are within their legal rights to do so.
- The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice. “Can patients record doctor’s visits? What does the law say?.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170710135301.htm (accessed August 29, 2017).
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