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Here’s how to avoid pitfalls of audio-recorded patient visits
e-Reports, Feb. 10, 2014
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ProAssurance offers risk management recommendations to help you with equipment, resources and discharge planning. Untitled document

Q. I’m concerned my patients may be recording visits, conversations without my knowledge. What can I do?

A. First, you should know Indiana does not have a specific statute covering this issue. The default legal point of reference is federal law that states at least one party to a conversation must consent to the recording of an oral communication. Consent by both parties is not required.

Unauthorized or unacknowledged recording of conversations and patient visits likely happens more than we know. In one online example a patient’s recording revealed comments from the health care professional that could be considered unprofessional or even mistreatment.

Complicating matters, physicians and health care professionals seem divided into two camps, with these overarching concerns are:

  1. HIPAA violations and breaches of patient/physician confidentiality (What if the video or audio ended up on YouTube?)
  2. Confidence that a patient can revisit medical advice or review follow-up instructions to understand diagnoses better

Into whatever camp a physician falls, the medical record should be noted when a patient tapes a conversation. ProAssurance risk management consultants recommend these steps:

  • Post a sign at the reception desk or where patients check-in stating something like:
    “To protect patient confidentiality and privacy, electronic recording is prohibited within the office.” You may also want to post this in exam rooms.
  • Develop a policy regarding taping conversations.
  • Include a statement on the patient intake sheet indicating electronic recording is prohibited within the office.
  • If a patient or family member is potentially recording conversations, request they discontinue recording.
  • Let patients and caregivers know they are welcome to take notes during the appointment and also advise that information is documented in the medical record.
  • If a caregiver asks to record the conversation, obtain the patient’s consent and document that consent in the medical record. One example would be a daughter who wants to record her mother’s appointment; however, the patient does not want the visit recorded. The appropriate response in this case would be to decline the request to record.

Physicians insured by ProAssurance may contact our Risk Management department for prompt answers to liability questions by calling (800) 292-1036 or via email.

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