Q: My veterinarian didn’t let me record him on my cell phone during our last exam. He said it made him feel uncomfortable. I always record my own doctors because I believe that if I’m paying for the service I deserve to have a record of it so I can go back and check it for accuracy later. I believe I’m being fair by letting him know I’m going to record the visit. This is ethical, right?
A: Let me understand: You want to record your veterinarians and physicians because you believe it’ll better help you understand the instructions later? Or is it because you don’t trust them and want a legal record of your interaction?
If it’s the former, I understand you perfectly and I have some solutions for you below. But before I go there let me explain why a responsible medical practitioner might object to being recorded:
▪ Because in asking for an audio or visual record of the conversation it may appear that you lack faith in the doctor. And that’s both uncomfortable and potentially insulting.
▪ Because doing so may make them feel as if you’re anticipating a legal issue. Which makes it understandable if your medical provider feels uncomfortable.
▪ Because some people simply get super-stressed in front of a recording device.
Overall, I believe that knowing you’re going to be recorded changes the interaction between veterinarian and client in a fundamental way. It would be difficult for them to feel as if they could speak honestly and openly.
Moreover, the request has the possibility of coming across as confrontational and aggressive. Which is not a good place to start any relationship. So even if your intentions are wholly benign, I have to ask: Why would you want to put anyone in this position?
If what you seek is greater clarification, you have some simple options to ensure accuracy without risking any damage to your relationship.:
▪ Take notes.
▪ Prepare some questions ahead of time.
▪ Make sure you write down some key things: the diagnosis, the treatment plan, and when you need to follow up with your vet.
▪ Still want to record for your memory’s sake? Ask to record just those salient facts at the end of the visit.
▪ Don’t keep good notes? Bring a friend to take notes for you.
▪ Need even more info? Ask for a summary of your visit and/or an online resource for your diagnosis.
Dr. Patty Khuly has a veterinary practice at Sunset Animal Clinic in South Miami. Her website is drpattykhuly.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.