Viewpoint Examines Ethical Implications When Patients Secretly Record Physicians

March 18, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Physicians should be aware of the possibility that their conversations with patients may be secretly recorded, warns a viewpoint article published online March 12, 2015, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. According to the article, advances in technology, especially the ubiquitous smartphone, have given patients and their families the ability to easily record conversations with physicians—a power that may provide some benefit but could also undermine patient-physician relationships and ultimately affect the provision of healthcare. The article notes that physician reactions to the idea of being covertly recorded have been mixed, with some who focus on the benefits, such as the potential to improve accuracy, adherence, and personal engagement by providing opportunities for patients to review conversations at other times, and some who focus on the drawbacks, such as establishing the grounds for a lawsuit or gathering material with which to manipulate a physician.

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