Part 2: Recording for Entertainment Purposes
As clinical consultations witness a growing trend of patient-initiated recordings, whether via video services or mobile devices, the landscape presents new challenges for surgeons and doctors. More professionals may encounter requests for consultations to be recorded, and sometimes discover post-consultation recordings without prior consent.
Understanding the Intentions
Part 1 delved into recordings for a patient’s personal use, aiding their comprehension of advice. However, some of our members have had patients who want to make the recording for entertainment purposes only. Examples have included patients who are lifestyle vloggers who want to share the footage with their followers. There have also been patients appearing on reality TV, so the footage would be broadcast or streamed. The phenomenon is particularly relevant to cosmetic or aesthetic medicine, but such requests have been known even for routine orthopaedic surgery.
Balancing Professional Conduct
Consultations should involve a full and frank discussion. There is a risk that the patient will omit important medical information, or their real reasons for wanting the procedure, if they are being filmed. That would make it much harder for you to give the right clinical advice, and to get their informed consent. The purpose of these recordings doesn’t align with aiding patient understanding; instead, they serve as entertainment for third parties or for the patient’s professional/publicity motives. Politely refusing such requests is often appropriate, safeguarding both patient and practitioner interests.
Considerations for Filmed Consultations
Doctors and surgeons filmed for entertainment should be vigilant about data rights and professional reputation. Uncontrolled usage of footage could compromise your reputation. Deepfake technology poses further risks, potentially distorting the reality of the footage, impacting your credibility. Sadly, there have also been incidents where a patient has taken a covert recording and shared it online or on social media without consent, often accompanied by disparaging comments. If you become aware of any such incident, you need to seek medico-legal advice immediately. It is vital not to comment online about any aspect of the incident without medico-legal advice, because of professional conduct considerations such as patient confidentiality and acting with integrity. You may need formal legal advice about what remedies are available to get the footage taken down and to protect your reputation.
Managing Complicated Scenarios
Perhaps the most difficult situations will arise where the patient does have a genuine medical need to make the recording to being to revisit and understand your advice properly, but also wishes to publish the footage for entertainment, professional or publicity purposes. The difficulty is that you may not be able to prevent the creation of the recording itself, but ideally you would still want to prevent it being broadcast or shared afterwards.
In this scenario, if at all possible you should pause or postpone the consultation until you can get medico-legal guidance on how to manage the various issues properly in the specific circumstances.
Support from Incision
Our members have the benefit of medical indemnity insurance to protect them in the event of a claim, including those where the evidence includes consultation recordings. Just as importantly, they have the benefit of cover for the cost of legal advice and representation if these issues result in a referral to the GMC.
Members also have the benefit of 24/7 medico-legal advice provided by dual-qualified doctors and lawyers. This means that as developing trends and evolving technologies raise new ethical questions and new liability risks for doctors, surgeons and clinics, there will always be specialists on hand to provide expert yet sensitive guidance to Incision members.