Recordings advice

MDDUS urges dentists to accept the possibility of patients covertly recording consultations

29 September, 2015 / infocus

Scots dentists have been advised to avoid confrontational or defensive reactions to patients who covertly record their consultation.

Defence organisation MDDUS has said there is increasing use of smartphones by patients to make an audio, or in some cases video, recording of a dental appointment.

However, MDDUS dental adviser Rachael Bell believes dentists should not resent patients who record consultations and instead accept that it is simply a product of the digital age.

“The law offers little or no protection from patients covertly recording consultations,” says Bell.

“A dentist may think that a patient would require their permission and that any recording made covertly was illegal. However, patients don’t need a dentist’s consent to record the consultation as section 36 of the Data Protection Act 1998 considers that the information in the recording belongs to them.

“Therefore, patients are within their rights and could use the information obtained to challenge the dentist’s actions. Conversely, dentists always require patients’ permission to record consultations, with the resulting data being subject to a number of protections.

“Any covert recording would seem inherently intrusive and a breach of trust in a patient-dentist relationship. Even if obtained covertly, courts may view the recording, if relevant to the case,as admissible.”

Dentists are warned that the accuracy of their records could be challenged if they do not match the recording of any consultation.

“By keeping clear, comprehensive and accurate records of consultations, dentists can justify their actions in court if necessary.”

While sometimes the patient may try to use the recording to challenge the dentist, it is our experience at MDDUS that the majority of recordings support the practitioner’s actions and confirm that they acted in an appropriate manner.

“There will be occasions when a dissatisfied patient uses a recording to pursue a complaint or claim but dentists acting professionally should have nothing to fear from recordings, covert or otherwise,” says Bell.

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