The law pertaining to a patient recording a consultation is somewhat complex because it involves various legal Acts, but does nonetheless tend to favour the patient.

Responding to a delegate question at the end of his recent SAMA Virtual Conference presentation, Dr Volker Hitzeroth, legal consultant with the Medical Protection Society (MPS), said that a doctor cannot complain about or sue a patient for recording their consultation – even without the doctor’s consent.

“We have looked at the law about recording consultations. It is complicated but because we found that it tends to favour the patient, my best advice would be treat every patient as if they are recording you. Be professional in all your interactions as you might be being recorded.”

On the value of recordings, Hitzeroth indicated that they were becoming increasingly important: “We have had cases of recordings coming out long after they were made, a recording of a consultation, or of a brief conversation with a family member in a hospital passage, for example, and these have made a big difference – sometimes to the good, sometimes to the bad.

“So if asked by a patient if you agree to having the consultation recorded, I suggest you answer in the affirmative unless you have a very clear reason not to.”