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August 8, 2017

Can Patients Make Recordings of Medical Encounters?What Does the Law Say?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Lebanon, New Hampshire
JAMA. 2017;318(6):513-514. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.7511

For many clinicians, it is possible that some of their patients are recording their office visit, with or without permission. In a cross-sectional survey administered to the general public in the United Kingdom, 19 of 128 respondents (15%) indicated that they had secretly recorded a clinic visit, and 14 of 128 respondents (11%) were aware of someone covertly recording a clinic visit.1 Because every smartphone can record conversations, this may become even more commonplace. The motivation is often reasonable: patients want a recording to listen to again, improve their recall and understanding of medical information, and share the information with family members.2 A review identified 33 studies (including 18 randomized trials) of patient use of audio-recorded clinic-visit information. Audio recordings were highly valued; across the studies, 72% of patients listened to their recordings, 68% shared them with a caregiver, and individuals receiving recordings reported greater understanding and recall of medical information.3

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