The DDU regularly receives calls from members who are asked by a patient if a consultation or procedure can be filmed. It's easy to assume the worst if a patient wants to record you at work but it doesn't always follow that they're trying to catch you out or that a complaint or claim is inevitable. 

Indeed, a recording of a consultation could be to your advantage if it helps ensure the patient doesn't miss anything important. There's often a lot to discuss, and patients might not always take in what they are told by healthcare workers.

However, if they are able to watch the recording in their own time, it may help them understand the risks and benefits of the different treatment options and make an informed decision about the treatment they want, which makes life easier for them and you.

There is no legal barrier to your patients recording their time in the dental chair, as they are only processing their own personal information. Section 36 of the Data Protection Act 1998 states: 'Personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual's personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the data protection principles and the provisions of Parts II and III'. You can ask that the patient respects your confidentiality and request that the recording is not shared with others or posted online. 

Before any operative procedure is recorded, especially one where blood may be seen, it would be sensible to describe the details to the patient beforehand so that they are not shocked to see how the procedure is carried out.

Any recording should not hamper your ability to carry out the procedure in a safe and hygienic environment so you may need to discuss the limitations of how anything could be recorded with the patient beforehand.

Covert recordings

If you suspect that a patient is covertly recording you, your duty of care means you might not be justified in automatically refusing to treat them. A confrontational response may easily rebound on you and further damage your relationship.