Patients Recording in the Practice
We are often asked for guidance from practices when patients record consultations. The advice of the medical defence organisations is that you cannot insist that a patient does not record a consultation and that, conversely, it may help the patient remember key information about the interaction, which they may otherwise forget. The GMC also sets out that it expects ‘you to give patients the information they want or need in a way they can understand. You should make sure that arrangements are made, wherever possible, to meet patients’ language and communication needs’.
Patients do not need to secure consent to record in the practice because they are processing their own personal information and so are exempt from data protection principles. Moreover, your duty of care means that you should not refuse to treat the patient. It may be more constructive to ask them to record openly and share a copy of any recording with the practice, so that it can be added to the patient’s medical record.
It is important to be aware that any such recording may be used as evidence in a GMC or court hearing.
Following a query from a practice regarding a patient who was filming in the practice reception area, where staff and other patients were present, we sought the advice of the Information Commissioner’s Office. The response was ‘data protection laws don’t cover situations when individuals process personal information for domestic purposes. However, you can have a policy in place eg that you don’t allow filming in such areas. If someone does film these areas then that would be a breach of your policy, not data protection.’ We would suggest you raise awareness of any such policy via your website and a notice in the waiting area.