New Dartmouth Institute Analysis Looks at Laws on Patient Recording of Clinical Encounters


Glyn Elwyn, MDTraffic stops, office conversations, and even doctor’s visits—more and more people today are choosing to record life’s encounters. If you are doctor, there is a good chance that at least one of your last 10 patients recorded their visit—either with or without permission. This “new reality” has some doctors and health care clinics worried about the ownership of recordings and their potential to be used in complaints or even law suits. Patients also worry that recording a doctor’s visit might be illegal, especially if done covertly.

What exactly are the laws governing patient recordings? In an article recently published in the Journal of the American Medicial Association (JAMA), investigaPaul Barr, PhDtors on The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice’s Open Recordings Project explain the often-confusing laws around recordings clinical visits.

“In the U.S., the situation is complex,” said Dartmouth Institute Professor Glyn Elwyn, MD. “Wiretapping or eavesdropping statutes provide the primary legal framework guiding recording practices and protecting privacy, so a patient who would like to record a doctor’s visit should familiarize themselves with laws in their state.”

For the full JAMA article:

Related: Stat First Opinion by Tim Lahey and Glyn Elwyn:

07/10 at 02:46 PM in NewsResearch • (3) Comments


Susan Berg on Jul 13, 2017 at 10:28 am

The Patient Supports Corps service learning program at Dartmouth Hitchcock (developed in consultation with Jeff Belkora at UCSF) provides volunteers to accompany patients to appointments to take notes and audio record the visit.  Patients report to us that the recording is extremely valuable as a tool to help them remember what was discussed in the consultation and to be able to share that information with others in their care circle.  Clinicians who decline to allow recording when asked,  risk eroding the trust and confidence the patient will have in the physician. LIkewise, patients covertly recording would naturally make a clinician wary about the reason for recording. Setting guidelines for when recording is appropriate in the clinical setting including being explicit about the law (i.e. - whether all present must agree to recording) could help to broaden this practice for the benefit of patients while alleviating the concerns of physicians regarding potential misuse of the recordings.

Michelle Dannenberg on Jul 17, 2017 at 3:06 pm

Learn more about the use of recordings in clinical practice at

Richard Nordstrom on Jul 18, 2017 at 1:41 pm

This is a great read, thank you for the work your doing. Technology is advancing faster than the legal community and providers can keep up. The many challenges in patient engagement include limited health literacy, physician communication skill and the patient ability to process of information while in the exam room. The discussion ends and the patient say’s “my doctor said I have ______(condition) and I din’t hear another word she said.”

There is a solution to the recording issue and that is to put the power of the recording into the hands of the healthcare professional. We launched Liberate Health as a HCP mediated platform that provides infographic content created by thought leaders to be used as a road map for the patient engagement. The encounter can be recorded compiled as a video and sent to the patient via a secure HIPAA compliant portal. The HCP is in control of what is and is not recorded. In clinical trials we have found that providers require less education time with improved patient understanding and patients report improved satisfaction with their provider because they can listen over to the conversation and share it with caregiver.

The health ecosystem is evolving and tools that facilitate engagement are important in driving improved health outcomes.




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