Making and using visual and audio recordings of patients (summary)

Making and using visual and audio recordings of patients


In our guidance Decision making and consent, we say:

2. Whatever the context in which medical decisions are made, you must work in partnership with your patients to ensure good care. In so doing, you must:

  • listen to patients and respect their views about their health
  • discuss with patients what their diagnosis, prognosis, treatment and care involve
  • share with patients the information they want or need in order to make decisions
  • maximise patients’ opportunities, and their ability, to make decisions for themselves
  • respect patients’ decisions.

In our guidance Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information. We say:

1. Trust is an essential part of the doctor-patient relationship and confidentiality is central to this. Patients may avoid seeking medical help, or may under-report symptoms, if they think their personal information will be disclosed2 by doctors without consent, or without the chance to have some control over the timing or amount of information shared.

2. Doctors are under both ethical and legal duties to protect patients’ personal information from improper disclosure. But appropriate information sharing is an essential part of the provision of safe and effective care. Patients may be put at risk if those who are providing their care do not have access to relevant, accurate and up-to-date information about them.

3. There are also important uses of patient information for purposes other than direct care. Some of these are indirectly related to patient care in that they enable health services to function efficiently and safely. For example, large volumes of patient information are used for purposes such as medical research, service planning and financial audit. Other uses are not directly related to the provision of healthcare but serve wider public interests, such as disclosures for public protection reasons.

4. Doctors’ roles are continuing to evolve and change. It is likely to be more challenging to make sure there is a legal and ethical basis for using patient information in a complex health and social care environment than in the context of a single doctor-patient relationship.


This explanatory guidance is intended to provide more detailed advice about how to comply with these principles when making or using visual and audio recordings of patients.


To maintain your licence to practise, you must demonstrate, through the revalidation process, that you work in line with the principles and values set out in this guidance. Only serious or persistent failure to follow our guidance that poses a risk to patient safety or public trust in doctors will put your registration at risk.