This policy is designed to protect both patients and staff from abuse or allegations of abuse and to assist patients to make an informed choice about their examinations, consultations and involvement in research studies.
Clinicians (male and female) should consider whether an intimate or personal examination of the patient (either male or female) is justified, or whether the nature of the consultation poses a risk of misunderstanding.
- The clinician should give the patient a clear explanation of what the examination will involve.
- Always adopt a professional and considerate manner – be careful with humour as a way of relaxing a nervous situation as it can easily be misinterpreted.
- Always ensure that the patient is provided with adequate privacy.
This should remove the potential for misunderstanding. However, there will still be times when either the clinician, or the patient, feels uncomfortable, and it would be appropriate to consider using a chaperone. Patients who request a chaperone should never be examined without a chaperone being present.
Complaints and claims have not been limited to male doctors with female patients – there are many examples of alleged homosexual assault by female and male doctors.
There may be rare occasions when a chaperone is needed for a home visit. The following procedure should still be followed.
Who can act as a Chaperone?
A variety of people can act as a chaperone in the practice. Nurses are obviously ideal but it is unlikely that they will be available, and Health Care Assistants, Phlebotomists and experienced Receptionists / Dispensers can all act as chaperones, provided they have had the required training and a DBS check.
- The chaperone should only be present for any required examination itself, and most discussion with the patient should take place while the chaperone is not present.
- Patients should be reassured that all practice staff understand their responsibility not to divulge confidential information.
Click on the link to see the latest GMC guidelines for intimate examinations: www.gmc-uk.org/index.asp
- The clinician will contact Reception to request a chaperone.
- The clinician will record in the notes that the chaperone is present, and identify the chaperone.
- The chaperone will enter the room discreetly and remain in room until the clinician has finished the examination.
- The chaperone will normally attend inside the curtain at the head of the examination couch.
- To prevent embarrassment, the chaperone should not enter into conversation with the patient or GP unless requested to do so, or make any mention of the consultation afterwards.
- The chaperone will make a record in the patient’s notes after examination. The record will state that there were no problems, or give details of any concerns or incidents that occurred.
- The patient can refuse a chaperone, and if so this must be recorded in the patient’s medical record.