Part 1: Recording Your Consultation and Consent
The landscape of clinical consultations is changing, witnessing a surge in patients opting to record consultations for their personal use. Whether via video consultation services or mobile devices in face-to-face meetings, this trend is becoming more prevalent. Our members often encounter such requests or discover post-consultation recordings without prior knowledge. Are there associated risks? How should you navigate patient recording requests? This guidance, Part 1, aims to aid our members in safeguarding themselves and adhering to professional obligations. (Part 2, focusing on entertainment recordings, can be accessed here: Part 2)
Understanding the Patient’s Intentions:
Recording requests commonly stem from patients seeking detailed reminders of advice for reflection. For some, facing complex decisions regarding their care prompts the need for a detailed recall. Vulnerable individuals, or those with language barriers, find these recordings particularly helpful for comprehension. Notably, these recordings are intended solely for the patient’s benefit without any publication intent.
Navigating Patient Requests:
Though limited published guidance exists, recent commentary advises careful consideration of such requests and openness to agree where appropriate. Patients don’t require doctors’ permission for personal recordings although doctors definitely need permission to record a consultation. Therefore, patients who ask to record your consultation are being considerate and are not necessarily trying to unsettle you.
Engage the patient, understanding their reasons. If their aim aligns with understanding and retaining advice, refusal might be challenging. If the patient’s request is related to their medical needs, then you should make reasonable adjustments anyway (Equality Act). In 2021 the BMA published an article encouraging doctors to explore and support patient requests to record their consultations, while acknowledging that sometimes doctors find it intrusive. The GMC has not published a guidance note on this topic, but comments by GMC representatives have been reported in a 2019 BMJ article, which included that a patient can benefit from being able to revisit your advice, which will often include concepts unfamiliar to them.
Request a copy for your records, maintaining your usual written documentation and follow-up protocols.
If discomfort arises due to being recorded, consider minimising distractions. Having a chaperone present can offer support and aid in recording discussions before or after the session. Positioning the recording device out of sight might aid in focusing solely on the patient.
The Benefits and Risks
While recordings may raise concerns about potential use as evidence against you, they could also serve as supporting evidence. They could aid in showcasing informed patient consent and offer a comprehensive understanding of advice revisited by the patient.
If the recording request implies dwindling confidence or anticipates a complaint, seeking immediate medico-legal guidance becomes crucial. If unable to pause, suggesting alternatives like detailed notetaking might offer a middle ground. Responding to complaints requires proper preparation and guidance, differentiating clinical queries from fault-seeking ones.
While individual doctors may address recording requests case-by-case, clinics should contemplate written policies to address recording issues comprehensively. Establishing such policies ensures consistency among staff and safeguards clinic and individual rights against potential misuse of footage.
Incision offers medical indemnity insurance and legal support in claims involving consultation recordings. Additionally, members benefit from round-the-clock medico-legal advice, ensuring constant expert guidance in navigating evolving ethical challenges and liability risks.