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Overt and covert recordings of health care consultations in Australia: some legal considerations

Megan Prictor, Carolyn Johnston and Amelia Hyatt
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja2.50838
Published online: 2 November 2020

Legal considerations exist for both clinicians and patients in recording health care consultations

Studies show that patients often have inaccurate recall of health care events and diagnoses.1 Concentration during a medical consultation may be “hampered by unspoken anxieties or pain, making it difficult to recall detail”.2 Audio recordings of consultations can be useful for patients and clinicians to assist memory and understanding. They have mainly been evaluated in oncology and paediatrics.3,4 Patients report that listening to their consultation recording increases knowledge and understanding of their illness, and recordings can assist with treatment decision making, increasing a sense of empowerment.5 Sharing recordings with family can facilitate support and understanding. Clinicians likewise recognise recordings’ benefits for patients and for improving the quality and efficiency of their care.6

  • Megan Prictor1
  • Carolyn Johnston1
  • Amelia Hyatt2

  • 1 Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Cancer Experiences Research, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne, VIC


Acknowledgements: 

We thank Associate Professor Mark Taylor and Associate Professor Andrew Roberts, Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne, for their review of a draft version of this article.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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