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Why You Should Record Your Senior's Next Doctor's Appointment

Aug 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers Newark, DE

It’s becoming increasingly popular for people to record everything these days. Your grandkid’s ballet recital, a freak accident on the highway you and your spouse are driving on, or your dog attacking the sprinkler in the backyard are all recording-worthy, for example. Some people are even recording movies illegally in the theaters to share on the Internet!

Now, many patients are recording their visit to the doctor’s. This may be a good practice for you, but what are the legalities of it? Here’s what to know:

Why do patients want to record their doctor’s visits?

Simply put, it’s a great way to have an exact copy of your doctor’s visit on your phone or tablet for you to reference back to.

This especially important for older patients who may forget things more easily, or who want to share their conversation with their physician with other family members or caregivers.

Instead of having to call back about things you forgot or questions you asked but are still confused about, watching the video or listening to the recording can help you go back and remind yourself. It’s an invaluable tool for seniors, their loved ones and their caregivers.

Is recording your doctor legal?

Recording appointments is still a fairly new concept for physicians, so it may be something your provider is not used to yet.

While in most states it is legal for you to record these visits even if your doctor is unaware, some states require consent from all parties being recorded – this means your doctor would have to agree to the recording.

A study in the U.K. from 2015 found that a surprising number of patients (about 35% of participants) were okay with recording on the sly. In fact, 15% of respondents had already done so at a previous appointment, and 11% knew someone who had.

Why You Shouldn’t Record Your Doctor Secretly

With so many people doing it, why should you bother with asking for consent from your doctor if you can get away with it sneakily?

Aside from it being illegal in several states, it’s about maintaining trust and respect in the doctor-patient relationship.

Even if you don’t particularly like your doctor, they are still providing you with important medical care and advice. If they saw you recording without their permission or found out about it after the fact, it could strain your relationship with them.

The researchers also mention, however, that sometimes the waiting rooms of some clinics and hospitals are constantly being recorded, meaning patients are being filmed without their consent.

Respect and consent go both ways. Your privacy should be respected as a patient, and you should trust and respect your doctor as they are providing you care.

How to Ask Your Doctor for Permission

In that same U.K. study, over 70% of participants admitted to wanting to record their next doctor’s visit. How does one go about doing so without breaking any laws, or stepping on any toes?

Stress to your doctor that sometimes it’s hard for you to remember the entirety of the appointment, and mention you wanting to share what you learned with those involved in your care, such as a spouse, child or caregiver. End by asking, “would you mind” or “would it be okay if I recorded?”

But recordings may soon be a norm in the future. A tool is currently in the works at Dartmouth College that records patient appointments automatically, and even allows the user to search for pertinent sections of the recording by keyword instead of having to watch the entire recording again.

Until then, remember to treat your doctor with respect and ask for their permission to record. A pen and paper is always a handy back-up.

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