When individuals who are not involved in providing care seek to observe patient-physician encounters, physicians should safeguard patient privacy by permitting such observers to be present only when the patient has explicitly agreed to the presence of the observer(s), the presence of the observer will not compromise care, and the observer has agreed to adhere to standards of medical privacy and confidentiality.
Audio or visual recording of patients can be a valuable tool for educating health care professionals, but physicians must balance educational goals with patient privacy and confidentiality. Physicians also have an obligation to ensure that content is accurate and complete and that the process and product of recording uphold standards of professional conduct.
Audio or visual recording of patient care for public broadcast is one way to help educate the public. However, physicians have an obligation to protect patient interests and ensure that professional standards are upheld. Physicians also have a responsibility to ensure that information conveyed to the public is complete and accurate.
Information gathered and recorded in association with the care of a patient is confidential. Disclosing information to third parties for commercial purposes without consent undermines trust, violates principles of informed consent and confidentiality, and may harm the integrity of the patient-physician relationship.
Residents and fellows have dual roles as trainees and caregivers; however, residents and fellows are physicians first and foremost and should always regard the interests of patients as paramount.