Many physicians just don’t feel comfortable with the technology and don’t understand the implications. Others think that recording changes the interaction, because the doctor may become more formal and may use medical jargon instead of easily understood words, knowing that others may review the interaction.
Explore This IssueMay 2016
Another concern is the use of the recording if there are adverse outcomes. If the doctor doesn’t mention a zebra, might that lead to a malpractice claim and/or overtreatment in a defensive medicine mode?
“The doctor–patient relationship is largely based on trust,” says Dr. Seifi. “I wonder if a patient is secretly recording me because they have lost that trust in my abilities?”
As with many other things in medicine, you must conduct a thorough and complete assessment before you plan your next moves. You should no more leap to conclusions about this aspect of care than you do any other.
Patients may have different reasons for wanting to record encounters with their physicians, and these may not necessarily stem from lack of trust. Sometimes it may be that they trust the doctor to the point that they want a verbatim record of what is said.
The patient may feel the need to secretly memorialize the interaction to refer to it later. Many studies note that it isn’t at all unusual for a patient to say they understand the treatment plans even when they don’t. They just don’t want the doctor to think less of them, or they seek the practitioner’s approval.
Younger patients may tape interactions with their physicians without giving it much thought. Some lead very public lives and document every facet of them on Facebook or Twitter or other social media platforms. To them, medical interaction is no different.
“Fire” the Patient?
There are times when physicians may be so concerned they even consider whether or not the relationship is viable or wonder if they should “fire” the patient.
“If they say they don’t trust the doctor or that they are looking for evidence of how you treated them improperly, then maybe the patient shouldn’t be sitting in front of you,” said Gary Sastow, Esq., a partner at Brown, Gruttadaro, Gaujean, and Prato, PLLC, in White Plains, N.Y. “A person coming in with the purpose of catching you doing bad things on tape doesn’t bode well for the relationship.”
Another concern is patient privacy and how secretly recording your doctor fits in with the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). If the patient is doing the recording, there are no concerns.