The Value of Recording Physician Consultations

Recording consultations with physicians is extremely valuable, especially with regards to obtaining results of screening or diagnostic tests, biopsies, surgeries, or discussions about future cancer risks, or potential treatments.

Recording the consultation enables:

  • ability to glean important information missed or not comprehended due to information overload, shock, language or hearing issues, etc.
  • ability to share with loved ones who may not be able to attend the consultation
  • improvement in patient recall and understanding of condition, risks, treatments

Learn how to use your phone’s “Voice Memo” app and practice

Breast Cancer Decision Services at UCSF is an exemplary program. I experienced first-hand how valuable their services were when I went there for a 2nd opinion with Dr. Laura Esserman in 2012. A PhD student contacted me to discuss my list of questions ahead of my scheduled appointment. She attended the consultation with me, recorded it, and took notes. After the visit, she sent me a summary of her notes and the recording of the visit.

I have listened back to recordings of several physician consultations and found myself hearing and learning new things that I may have missed at the time of the appointment. I did have one physician (a medical oncologist) who was not agreeable to recording the consultation. I wondered why and did not continue to see this physician.

In 2015, I listened back to a recording from my phone consultation with expert pathologist Dr. Michael Lagios who I consulted with for a 2nd pathology opinion in 2011. I thought it was an amazing amount of information that could really help women if they could listen to my questions and his answers. He kindly granted permission for me to share the 43 minute recording on DCIS 411:

Can patients record doctor’s visits? What does the law say?

“Health care overall is moving toward greater transparency and patient recordings are going to become more common. That means there would be tremendous benefit to patient advocacy groups, health care organizations, providers and policymakers working together to develop clear guidelines and policies around the responsible, positive use of open recordings.”

Secretly Recording Your Doctor’s Appointments: Secret recording is increasingly common and many times legal

“39 of 50 states as well as the District of Columbia are single-party jurisdictions—where only one party needs to consent. In other words, in these jurisdictions, if somebody wants to record another person—including a clinical encounter—it’s legal.

There are 11 all-party-jurisdiction states in which both the clinician and patient must both consent to recording a conversation: California, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington. In these states, it’s a felony for a patient to record a physician without permission.

In single-party jurisdictions—or most of the United States—if a patient asks to record a clinical encounter and the clinician refuses, the patient can proceed to record the encounter anyway. The clinician must then choose to continue or terminate the encounter.

In all-party jurisdictions, the clinician must be asked by the patient to record the clinical encounter. Any illegal recording can then be reported by the clinician to the authorities. Possible repercussions include compensation for harm, attorney’s fees, and other costs, with disseminating the recording via the Internet being considered an additional violation.”

Further reading:

Please comment below (Leave a Reply) if you have benefited from recording a consultation with a physician.

About Donna Pinto

I am originally from New Jersey and moved to Los Angeles with my family at age 12. After graduating from San Diego State University with a BA in Journalism, I had a short-stint in magazine advertising sales before landing my "dream job" with Club Med. For two years I worked at resorts in Mexico, The Bahamas, The Dominican Republic and Colorado. My husband Glenn & I met in Ixtapa, Mexico and we embarked on a two year honeymoon around the world. This was also a research project for a book we wrote called "When The Travel Bug Bites: Creative Ways to Earn, Save and Stay Abroad." I am also the author of a quote book for new graduates -- "Cheatnotes on Life: Lessons From The Classroom of Life." In 1997, we settled in San Diego and I was blessed to work part-time from home for non-profit organizations while raising our two boys. In 2010, a DCIS diagnosis changed my life. DCIS 411 is the culmination of my on-going journey and discoveries.
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1 Response to The Value of Recording Physician Consultations

  1. Laurel says:

    Unfortunately many doctors are afraid of lawsuits and this is more worrisome for them than their patient understanding and remembering what was discussed. I had a doctor refuse to let me record even when I explained when I’m anxious I don’t remember things. She said I could write what she was saying, which takes way more time.


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