Can I record my doctor without permission? Not in these 11 states.

US States Requiring All-Party or Single-Party Consent for Audio Recording of Conversations

When I worked as a physician in Michigan, I had been recorded by patients several times during their visits. Some of them asked for permission, but in most cases I was only informed by one of my staff after the fact.

I’ve written about this before. There are various reasons patients do this, most of them revolve around folks wanting recall the information I provided, or share it with family.  As I wrote about in that previous post,  recordings of medical visits has the potential to improve care, satisfaction, compliance, and even patient outcomes. However, many physicians incorrectly assume that patients who record them have nefarious intentions.

In regards to the patients I used to see in Michigan, it turns out that recording me without my permission could have constituted a criminal activity. Michigan is one of the 11 states that requires permission from all parties in a recording. The remainder of the states, including North Carolina where I currently practice, require only single party consent. Meaning of course that the individual making the recording does not require consent of others in the recording.

The ethics of this, I think, are clear (at least to me). Patients should inform physicians that they are being recorded. Not doing so, would only contribute to suspicions about patient’s intent.  Conversely, clinicians should be receptive to being recorded when asked. . . not doing so will only encourage your patients to resort to increasingly Bond-like covert activities. Ultimately an open and honest relationship between patients and their care providers has the best chance of providing the best outcomes for patients.