May 14, 2014

Recording Your Doctor Visits

Since writing this blog on April 1, I am seeing more discussion about the topic. I did receive 2 emails shortly after the blog was posted and they were anything but kind and one doctor was asking me why I would write about a topic that the medical profession would oppose. I did answer that one and suggested that if he felt that way, he did not belong in medicine.

I took great effort to say that often, elderly people can have memory problems and need a recording to clarify what was said by the doctor. I also suggested that if he was feeling that way, maybe he should be worried about the poor care he was giving patients.

Now there is another blog by a doctor from a very positive point of view. This doctor had it happen to him and was not even told.  He was informed later by someone that had heard it. The rest of his office and staff were angry and disgusted. Dr. Ramachandran said, “(This) is typical of what most physicians would feel in the same situation. Why would a physician be upset about a patient secretly recording a conversation with them?”

His next statement is what most doctors fear. “Well, simple, really. Most physicians are in chronic fear that the next person to hear or view that recording will be a malpractice lawyer, dissecting it, consonant by consonant, probing for potentially actionable material.”

Then he makes some very good points.

#1. A patient of his could not remember what he, (the doctor) had said and his wife confirmed this.

#2. Another patient could not remember which medication to stop and which medication to start.

#3. How about the concerned adult children who were unable to attend the parent’s appointment and want to talk to me about how their parent is doing?

Dr. Ramachandran feels those people could benefit from the ability to record a discussion with the physician. 

Cullman Regional Medical Center has one of the finest medical facilities in north Alabama and Cullman is impacting thousands of lives by providing care to people who are sick and hurting. More than 150 doctors practice medicine here with a team of nearly 1,000 nurses, technicians and other support staff.

Cullman has instituted a plan that creates audio recordings of the instructions that patients received at the time of discharge from the hospital. This audio is a verbatim recording of what the patient was told as part of their discharge. This is done by a nurse or case manager and is uploaded to the cloud, where they can be accessed by calling in, or via the Web. The program is a great success and reduced 30-day readmissions by 15 percent.

Dr. Ramachandran concludes by instructing his patients that feel the need to record the conversation to feel free to ask the question, “May I record this conversation?” You’ll find the answer is often “Yes, please do!”

Trisha Torrey then writes about this and says it is legal. What she forgets to say is that it is legal in some states and not others, unless both parties consent. If you record after being told no – you could be the one on the wrong end of the lawsuit.

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