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Dento-legal helpline

0800 374 626

Recording consultations

recording on a mobile phone

7 August 2017

What should I do if a patient asks to record a consultation?

The benefits

Firstly, don't assume that the patient doesn't trust you; the recording could in fact help the patient retain and better understand what's discussed in the consultation.

It might also allow the patient to watch or listen to the recording in their own time, so they can consider the risks and benefits of treatment options and make an informed decision.

Legal aspects

Under the Data Protection Act 1998, a patient can record a consultation as long as it's for their own use.

Confidentiality

You may wish to ask the patient to respect your confidentiality if you are concerned they will post the recording online or share it with others. Ultimately, however, it is difficult to stop a patient from sharing the recording if they are determined to.

Communication and consent

If the consultation being filmed is an operative procedure, it's a good idea to describe the details to the patient first so that they are not shocked to see how the procedure is carried out.

If you discover the patient recording covertly, consider inviting them to record the consultation openly.

You may then want to ask for a copy of the recording to add to the patient's dental records. Reassure the patient that the recording will be stored securely and not used for any other purpose.

If you are concerned the recording is an indication of the patient not trusting you, you might want to raise this with them later. Don't be confrontational in your approach; this could damage your relationship with the patient.

Can I record a consultation?

Be wary of recording consultations solely to defend complaints and litigation – this might be seen as defensive by patients, and potentially affect your relationship with them.

A digital recording forms part of the dental record and contains 'sensitive personal data' under the Data Protection Act.

Consent

If you wish to record a consultation with a patient, you will need to obtain consent before making the recording.

Patients need to understand:

  • the purpose of the recording
  • who will be allowed to see it
  • the context in which it will be used
  • whether copies will be made
  • arrangements for secure storage
  • how long it will be kept.

You should reassure the patient that they can refuse permission or withdraw it at any time, during or after the recording. Should they refuse permission, make sure they know the recording will not be used and the quality of care they receive will not be affected.

After the recording is made, we recommend you give the patient a further opportunity to consent and see the recording if they wish. It's also advisable to make a note in the patient's record of whether they gave or withheld their consent.

Record keeping

Remember that making a recording does not replace the need to make a contemporaneous clinical record of the consultation.

Recordings should be retained for the same period as any other clinical records.

Disclosure

In the event of a complaint, claim or some other formal investigation, you may be ordered to or have duty to disclose all relevant records, including any recording, in its entirety.

This guidance was correct at publication on 07/08/2017. It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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