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Don’t feel threatened by covert filming, MDDUS says

3 July 2015

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If you discover a patient has covertly filmed a consultation do not feel threatened, the Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) said.

The law offers little or no protection from patients covertly recording consultations, but doctors should not be defensive as this is just a “product of the digital age,” the UK-wide medical defence organisation said.

Patients don’t need a doctor’s consent to create a video or audio recording of their consultation, due to section 36 of the Data Protection Act 1998, but the majority of recordings confirm that doctors have acted in an appropriate manner, both personally and clinically, MDDUS said.

Dr Mary Peddie, MDDUS medical advisor said: “In an ideal world, patients would not feel the need to covertly record a consultation and would be open about it. However, doctors should not necessarily feel threatened when they become aware of a recording.

“Indeed, a recording may be helpful in avoiding misunderstandings. We are all aware that patients often do not understand a doctor’s best attempts at explanations in layman’s terms. It is worth considering whether there may be a genuine and positive reason for the patient recording the appointment,” she said.

If a patient starts recording your consultation Peddie recommends discussing the reasons why the patient feels they need to record it, as it may simply be that the instructions you give them are too complex or they wish to share the information accurately with their family.

“Of course, there will be occasions when a dissatisfied patient uses a recording to pursue a complaint or claim as, even if obtained covertly, recordings can be admissible evidence in court.

“Doctors acting professionally should have nothing to fear from an audio or video recording, covert or otherwise, but this will be no substitute for keeping clear, comprehensive and accurate written records of consultations which will help protect them if the patient attempts to use the recording to support a complaint,” she said.