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What to Do When a Patient Secretly Records You

Today, patients can use their smartphones to record conversations, examinations and staff without your knowledge or consent. Is this something that you should be concerned about?

Did you know that PSIC has a Risk Management Advice Hotline? Through this and our Claims Advice Hotline, we are able to talk with doctors about potential risk issues.

The following reflects a recent, risk management scenario that could occur in many practices: A provider suspected that one of their patients was using a cell phone to record what was said during an appointment.

Today, patients can use their smartphones to record conversations, examinations and staff without your knowledge or consent. With the touch of a button, what you thought was a private conversation or examination can become a video or recording that could be used against you. 

In addition to the ethical implications of recording or videotaping without the other party’s knowledge, recordings present another risk in the fact that unauthorized recording is a violation of trust. Once trust is fractured, it is almost never fully repaired.

Is this something that providers should be concerned about?

While unauthorized recording and videotaping has not become a major issue yet, it almost certainly will become a factor in future cases. The advance of technology, the breakdown of ethical boundaries, the ease of devices and the relaxed level of respect for authority make this an extreme likelihood. 

Therefore, it is a good idea to check your state statutes to determine if one-sided recordings by patients are permitted in your state. If so, you may wish to enforce a “check your cell phone at the door” policy. However, you should consult with your practice attorney before taking this step.

Of course, you as the practitioner, should not record others without their awareness and permission as an ethical—and possibly a legal—matter.

In the event that you suspect an unauthorized recording by a patient, contact PSIC.

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