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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Should doctor-patient conversations be taped?

Interesting suggestion from Blog, MD, the blog of Dr. Samuel C. Blackman, a Boston pediatric oncologist. He discusses a recent study in the British Medical Journal, which looked at whether mothers of infants in the ICU were able to recall information better when given audiotapes of their conversations with doctors.

"A couple of years ago, when I was a relatively new 1st year fellow, a family brought a tape recorder into the room and set it down right in front of me," he writes. "I canít remember whether or not they asked me if I would mind being taped (I think they did), but I remember being weirded out by it and telling them that Iíd prefer not to have my every word recorded."

But he's had a change of heart. "One would think that a tool as simple as a tape recorder would be more widely used for complex discussions such as informed consent for chemotherapy," he writes. "I believe that offering parents the opportunity to tape oneís important discussions with them telegraphs a message of confidence and trust, and would go a long way to establish rapport at a very important moment in a familyís life."

He's eager for comments from parents of children with cancer and from cancer patients themselves.

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