Recently, www.thedoctorweighsin.com website published an article titled “What To Do When Patients Want To Record Their Doctor Visits”.  This seems to be a regular occurrence in the human medical world and the VDA has dealt with a recent case where a client used her smart-phone to record an altercation in the veterinarian’s waiting room.
 
Smartphones have become universal and ever-present, providing users with video and audio recorders that are always at hand.
The article mentioned a high profile case in which a patient had recorded his colonoscopy, capturing derogatory remarks made by the anesthesiologist while the patient was under anesthesia.  The patient sued for malpractice and was awarded $500 000.
 
Another case which reportedly occurred in 2012 involved a patient who underwent knee surgery, during which he suffered cardiac arrest and died.  The patient’s family had secretly recorded the hospital’s chief medical officer saying that a blood analysis had been delayed because of malfunctioning medical equipment.  The recording was used in a wrongful death suit.
 
Patients wish to record their consultations with their doctors as they claim that the recordings will assist recollection of the doctor’s instructions and treatment adherence.  However, keep in mind that a recorded consultation is a privacy and liability risk for the doctor.
 
Apart from the risks involved for the practitioner, recording devices could be disruptive and could be intimidating to doctors and staff. The recordings could also be manipulated and altered to create an inaccurate portrayal of what was actually said.
 
If a client records a consultation without the veterinarian’s permission, it could result in a loss of trust. Trust is the basis of any strong relationship, and the veterinarian-client-patient relationship is based on trust. There is no exception to the rule.
Clients need to be advised unequivocally that recordings on the premises are prohibited, in order to protect the privacy of other clients, the veterinarian and all staff.   This can be done by way of a notice on your website, and/or a printed sign at reception, or in your waiting room and consulting room.
 
If a client requests to record a consultation, encourage them to rather take notes or have a trusted family member or friend attend the appointment with them to help them remember information or ask questions. On the other hand, you, the veterinarian, should seriously consider installing CCTV cameras to record all your consultations. Video footage may even assist in dealing with disciplinary matters with employees. One human GP had an experience where a child recorded his consult with the parent and posted screen shots on social media.
 
Remember that even though it may seem harmless to allow your clients to record your consultations, it could be used against you, the way it is being used in the human medical world.