We’ve all been to the doctor’s office and left wondering, “What in the world did he just say?” or “What am I supposed to do next?” There are many reasons why so many patients leave their medical appointments confused and overwhelmed: maybe we received a diagnosis that left us shell-shocked, it could be that the terminology was too clinical, or perhaps there was an abundance of information given. For all of these reasons and more, an increasing number of patients and doctors are choosing to record medical visits.
According to a recent study conducted by Paul Barr, an assistant professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, he and his team discovered that:
- 30% of the doctors they interviewed have recorded visits for patient use
- 19% of patients have recorded their doctor’s visit
Doctors who specialize in a specific field tend to record patient visits more often than general practitioners. For example, almost half of oncologists and 42% of physical rehabilitation doctors recorded information for their patients. Barr also states that half of the doctors involved in his study would be willing to have their appointments recorded. Furthermore, research has shown that a patient forgets up to 80% of the information they hear during an average appointment, so this could be a simple solution to help many patients.
While it may seem easy enough just to hit “record” on your smartphone, there are some legal aspects that you should consider. Federal law allows you to record telephone calls and in-person conversations as long as one party (you) gives consent; this is allowed in most states and is is called a “one-party consent” law. Under a one-party consent law, you can record your appointment as long as you are a party to the conversation. However, in the following states, the state law either clearly sites or implies that all parties need to give consent: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington. This means that you should ask your doctor for permission to record your conversation. (Please note that you should double check with your state law or lawyer to confirm what is permissible in your specific state.)
If you are making a recording, you may want to begin by saying, “Doctor Smith, do I have your permission to record this conversation taking place at Kaiser Hospital in Danville, California on October 1, 2018?” If any complications or legal issues arise down the road, you’ll have evidence to support your claims and proof that the doctor knew he was being recorded. For instance, if you were given the wrong drug dosage or were prescribed a medication that may later cause adverse effects, you have documentation to support your case.
So should you record your doctor’s visits? Absolutely! This will help to manage your current and future health. It will also provide a level of assurance and accountability that your doctor is taking care of you fully.