April 1, 2014

Would You Record Your Doctor Appointment?

No, this is not an April fools joke. Not going to admit it are you? I can just about guess that at sometime, one of my readers has done this on the sly. And, I don't blame you for not saying anything because of fear of retaliation. This blog is from an idea I read in the Health Care Blog. The author states that the doctor name is fictitious, but the article is based on data from an online discussion from the UK Consumer Action Group. The blog originally appeared in the British Medical Journal.

Would I do this? I am seriously considering it and may at some time in the future. I have a great miniature digital recorder that has excellent sound pickup qualities that I have used for other activities, but had not really thought about recording the conversation in the doctor's office.

The blog was very enlightening about the reactions from a doctor's point of view and how this is playing out in the period following the posting. The comments to the blog in Health Care are also very revealing and this came to light. Carecoach is already providing a service to record the conversation in a doctor's office.

From a purely legal perspective, I have not found a reference to confirm several comments about the legal requirements varying among the different states. Would we need a signed waiver? Would we need to have just a verbal consent? The above link may have the answers, but you would need to contact them. This link may answer a few questions, but does not have a state specific discussion. My answer is when in doubt – don't record.

I could see a few advantages and a few disadvantages. It would be a huge advantage for patients that have a difficult time concentrating and by reviewing what they were told could prevent mistakes on their part. It could also be used to prevent them from saying the doctor never told them something.

When you asked the doctor a question, you would know if you received an answer and not have to rely on memory. You would also know when a doctor only partially answered a question. When you know that a doctor answered a question, you could review the answer to make sure you did not miss something important.

Many people are nervous when they are in the doctor's exam room. They often do not understand something they were instructed to do. I also know a friend that has his wife accompany him on doctor visits. He hears one thing and his wife hears another. And they do have some heated discussions afterward. A recording could settle these disagreements.

Okay, but you say what about doctor-patient trust? Yes, if approached in an unfriendly manner, I can understand a doctor becoming upset. Even if you explain that you have missed things in the past and are having memory problems, some doctors will still become hostile.

I am aware of one doctor that does record his time with some patients. He knows that they have memory problems and does this as a way of providing them a recording for them to review. He does make sure that they have the equipment to listen to the recording. He even makes a duplicate for himself to play if the patient calls and does not understand something.

There are many pros and cons, but this may have its uses.

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