Is it OK to record your doctor visit?

Is it OK to record your doctor visit?
Published: Sep. 14, 2017 at 10:25 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 18, 2017 at 2:19 PM EDT
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Christine Martinello is no stranger to the doctor's office.

"Currently, I go for myself and for injuries that I've had, or I went to the hospital a lot for my dad when he had cancer," Martinello said.

She says she sometimes forgot the doctor's instructions once she got home, so now, "whenever I feel like I need to remember all the information, I'll record the visit."

She does it right on her phone by using a recording app.

A recent study shows 15 percent of patients now record their visits, either with or without permission.

"Many patients actually are afraid to ask for permission to record and therefore they're doing it by keeping the phone on in a pocket or whatever," says Professor Glyn Elwyn of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice.  Dr. Elwyn co-authored a study, which found a variety of reasons for why patients record and for what they do with those recordings.

"They actually listen to them, often many times, and then they share them with their relatives, their sons, their daughters, their caregivers," Dr. Elwyn said.

Whether it is legal to record varies around the country, but legality aside, Dr. Elwyn says there is a question of ethics and common courtesy.

"If somebody finds out that I've recorded this encounter secretly, that leads to a breakdown of relationships between clinicians and patients," he explains.

Some physicians are concerned with liability, however, some practices actually encourage the option, even offering to make recordings for you.

Both Martinello and Dr. Elwyn see great benefits for patients and doctors in pressing record.

"If you're in the recording, as a clinician, you might take more care to spell out exactly what it is you want people to do," Dr. Elwyn says.

"The more information you have, the better you can make decisions. It's better for everyone," Martinello said.