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Is This Thing On?

2020-01-27 Posted By Jenna Reed-Cote

Testing. Testing. Is this thing on?

Did you know, “studies show that half of all patients walk out of their physicians’ offices unclear on what they were just told or are supposed to do, unless they had taken notes or had someone with them”? (CTV News, 2018)

For me, I learn a lot about the relationship with my practitioner when I have to bring up my need to record my appointments (which can be uploaded to the “My Appointment” section of my "Medical & Motivation" app - available in the AppStore and GooglePlay for FREE). It can be a tricky conversation that requires some finesse, confidence, authenticity, vulnerability and assertiveness, however, “open communication about the need for the recording will help ensure that recordings will not threaten the privacy of other patients and staff or affect the trust between physician and patient,” the CMPA says. In fact, “we know that up to 80% of health care information is forgotten by patients after their clinic visit.” Studies also show that “access to recordings can improve patient satisfaction and increase understanding of medical information” (Vogel, 2018)

I'm not afraid to explain to my practitioner that I would like to record my appointment. Actually, that’s a lie. I still have a few knots in my stomach because of the power imbalance between patient and practitioner. How do I try to rise above? This is what I try to communicate:

    - I have PTSD. What does this mean for me? It means that I can get really anxious during appointments, leaving me with not as much recall as I’d have in other situations.

    - Seeing as how I don’t have an MD, I can’t necessarily keep up with all the terminology, facts and figures that are thrown at me every appointment. It's important for me to remind my practitioner about this because they have the opportunity to talk about this stuff all day, every day. But, when I'm trying to take notes, or trying to remember all the information from my appointment, I end up having to decide whether to keep track of all the facts and figures, or to be present and ask relevant questions in the moment (and remember the answers). NEITHER of these options are a perfect solution on their own.

    - On top of not having optimal recall abilities, my PTSD (and just certain appointments, in general) can make me misinterpret what was said. This doesn’t help anyone. I’ve actually been in a situation where I’ve recorded my appointment and called my parents afterwards, completely distraught, giving them my recollection of the appointment. My parents’ response? “Why don’t you send us the recording,” and later coming back to me saying, “Ok, so this is what the doctor meant…” Being able to get support from my friends and family, who might not have been able to be with me, and offering them firsthand information is SO invaluable. They know me better than anyone, and will be the ones helping me cope with any decisions I make. Which brings me to my next point…

    - Decisions. Any of these appointments can turn into having to make life or death decisions, ultimately leaving me to deal with consequences - good or bad. Having a recording of the appointment gives me the opportunity to listen to its content over and over and over (and over) again, if I have to, as I try to process everything. It also lets me do all of this in my “safe place.” No matter where your safe place is, I wouldn't discount one’s mental potential when you're able to feel safe, calm and open to what life has put in front of/thrown at you, grounding you when the time comes to make decisions.

    - Lastly, when I have an appointment I try to come into it open to the idea that I might need to change doctors. Is that weird? I don't know, I guess I've had one too many bad experiences... I don’t take this potential lightly, and I know I might have to face it at the worst possible time (which I have) - when I feel like I’m backed up against a wall. However, I know I have to do what’s best for me. At the end of the day, I need to feel at ease being honest and vulnerable with my practitioner. After all these years of being a "professional patient," I’ve pretty much figured out what works best for me and am willing to advocate for that - and one of these things is being able to record my appointments. Some practitioners are open to it, some are skeptical (which is why I take the time to explain all the reasons why it helps me), and some practitioners stand their ground and won’t allow it. As hard as it is in those times, I have to leave. I know that I’m not recording my appointments to be malicious or catch them in a mistake, and if they don’t trust me - that’s a problem. With my practitioners I need for there to be trust, honesty and respect for each other. End of story. I am entrusting them with my life - literally. And in my heart of hearts, I know they want to help, but we need to be aligned in our approaches.

So, what do you think? Has sharing my situation and what I do helped? Is being able to record your appointment worth the effort for you? Is there anything else you’d like to discuss when broaching appointment recording with your practitioner? Let me know!

CTV News. (2018, February 28). Is it OK to secretly record your visit with your doctor? Retrieved from

Vogel, L. (2018, October). Doctors conflicted about patients recording clinical visits. Retrieved from

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