This policy is designed to protect both patients and staff.
All Health Care Professionals employed by and working at Observatory Medical Practice have been made aware of and are encouraged to follow this policy.
All medical consultations, examinations and investigations are potentially distressing for patients. Patients can find examinations, investigations or photography involving the breasts, genitalia or rectum particularly intrusive. Patients may feel vulnerable during any examination when it is necessary to touch or even be close to the patient, consultations involving dimmed lights, or when patients have to undress. Clinicians need to be aware of cultural values which may influence a patient’s vulnerability.
The intimate nature of Medical and Nursing examinations, if not practised in a sensitive and respectful manner, can lead to misinterpretation and the potential for allegations by the patient of assault against the Health Care Professional.
It is therefore to protect both patients and Health Care Professionals that we offer the patient the option of having an impartial observer (a chaperone) present wherever possible. This applies whether or not the patient is the same gender as the clinician.
Who can be a chaperone?
A chaperone can be anyone that the patient wants to have present and is available, as long as they have capacity to make this decision. If the patient does not have such a person present at their appointment, they can have a clinical member of staff or specifically trained non -clinical member of staff present. A chaperone is present as a safeguard for all parties (patient and clinician) and is a witness to continuing consent to the procedure.
Role of the chaperone
- To prove the patient with physical and emotional support and reassurance, and to respect the patient’s dignity and confidentiality.
- To reassure the patient if they show signs of distress or discomfort.
- To be familiar with the procedures involved in a routine intimate examination and be prepared to intervene if the examination appears to be inappropriate or the patient appears to be distressed.
- To stay for the whole examination and be to see what the doctor is doing.
- To be prepared to raise concerns if they are concerned about the doctor’s behaviour or actions.
- Provide protection for the healthcare professional from potentially abusive patients.