What would you do? Part I

Here’s a “what would you do scenario”. Your patient leaves your office and your support staff tell you that the patient has been audio/video recording your visits. You are not aware of any adverse event or disagreement, so you’re perplexed as to why the patient would consider recording the encounter. What would you then do? I would first question whether or not to approach the patient with an inquiry. For both those recording for benign reasons or one of malintent, the inquiry could trigger distrust and tear at the patient-provider relationship. A carefully worded approach avoiding accusatory language is best. I suggest starting with something innocent such as “I was told you were recording our visits together and I was worried that maybe I wasn’t making sense during our discussions. Is there anything we need to discuss again?”. 

Perhaps the reason is something simple and innocent, such as saving the recording to playback to a family member or loved one (especially if discussing complex information) or to help a patient re-listen to the conversation in order to clarify and understand discussion. The biggest fear I would have of course is an intent to sue and that the patient is looking for an opportunity for me to screw up (or at least look it enough to convince a lawyer). If you know this is a patient in which an adverse event did occur (whether your responsibility or not), be sure to always speak politely, express only factual information, and carefully document all findings and discussions. Be cautious and discuss with professional legal counsel what your rights are in your state regarding audio recording without consent.