Positive Outlook - Issue 9.0 - Feb 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What do you do when the patient whips out their Smartphone and states they want to record you?

This definitely raises the possibility of a red flag. But, do you want to tell the patient no and look like you are hiding something or are not being tech savvy.

This except from a Medscape article outlines the question:

"Doctor, would it be okay with you if I tape record our conversation today?"

The doctor's first reaction is likely to be negative. He or she may feel a lack of trust or a sense of suspicion. Perhaps the patient wants to create evidence for a lawsuit. Consented-to audiotape evidence, just like your testimony and your medical record, may be admissible in court.

And the evidence could be damaging. If you neglect to mention an important factor or misstate a medical recommendation, you won't be able to deny it at trial because the tape will impeach your testimony. If you miss a diagnosis and the tape showed that you failed to ask a relevant question or forgot to order a recommended test, your defense will be compromised.

This is a new age that includes smartphone technology plus the "informed consumer" movement. A malpractice conundrum is presented.

Your first step should be to ask the patient, "Why do you want to tape the conversation?"

Tapes may be both bad and good in terms of malpractice: bad if they become incriminating evidence in court, but good if they increase patient comprehension and quality of care.

PPIX Recommendation:
We suggest that you be prepared for such a request and formulate a plan of action.
We believe, based upon the patient’s response, that you should individually decide whether to say yes or no. If you decide to allow the patient to record your conversation, be sure you are as clear and articulate as if you were writing it in the medical record.

If you’re not comfortable with the recording, you should discuss this personally with the patient and discuss your reasons. You can suggest that the best solution could be for the patient to take notes and to ask questions later if needed.

As always, make sure you document everything discussed with the patient.