A chaperone is a neutral 3rd party who is present at a medical examination, investigation or photography. Although the presence of a chaperone may be important for both the patient and the clinician, respect, a full explanation, informed consent and privacy are essential.
Offering a Chaperone
- The practice displays a notice in the waiting rooms to offer this service.
- Patients are notified of the service on the surgery website.
- A chaperone can also be offered when the patient books an appointment.
- A chaperone is offered in the consultation prior to the examination.
The Rights of the Patient
- All patients have a right to have their privacy and dignity respected.
- Patients are offered a chaperone (formal or informal) and their preference documented.
- In order for the patient to exercise their right to a chaperone, explanation of the intimate examination will be given and checking of their understanding following this.
- If a patient refuses a chaperone, this should be documented in the clinical records.
- If a chaperone is unavailable, the patient is given the choice to consent without one or to postpone until one is available.
Explanation of the Procedure
The health care professional fully explains what will happen at the time of the procedure and why the intimate examination needs to be carried out.
Where possible, the doctor or nurse ensures that the individual patient understands and agrees to the examination so is able to give informed consent. Informed consent should be documented by the health care professional. The chaperone will check that the patient is aware of the nature of the procedure to which he/she has consented.
The chaperone will:
- Be courteous.
- Avoid personal comments.
- Ensure the dignity of the patient is maintained.
- Offer reassurance.
- Ensure that any questions are heard and answered by the clinician.
- Remain alert to verbal or non-verbal signs of distress from the patient.
For these patients a familiar person such as a family member or carer may be the best person to be present as an informal chaperone.
Religious / Cultural Needs
The ethnic, religious and cultural background of an individual may make intimate examinations more difficult.
- Use an interpreter where possible.
- Uncover only the part of the body to be examined.
- Try to find a gender appropriate clinician to perform the procedure.