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:

8. The exchange of information between doctor and patient is central to good decision making. It’s during this process that you can find out what’s important to a patient, so you can identify the information they will need to make the decision.

9. The purpose of the dialogue is:

  1. to help the patient understand their role in the process, and their right to choose whether or not to have treatment or care
  2. to make sure the patient has the opportunity to consider relevant information that might influence their choice between the available options
  3. to try and reach a shared understanding of the expectations and limitations of the available options.

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 guidance, which forms part of the professional standards, is intended to provide more detailed advice about how to comply with these principles when making or using visual and audio recordings of patients.


The professional standards describe good practice, and not every departure from them will be considered serious. You must use your professional judgement to apply the standards to your day-to-day practice. If you do this, act in good faith and in the interests of patients, you will be able to explain and justify your decisions and actions. We say more about professional judgement, and how the professional standards relate to our fitness to practise processes, appraisal and revalidation , at the beginning of Good medical practice.