Recently updated GMC guidance – Intimate examinations and chaperones (2013) – recommends that a patient should be offered a chaperone whenever there is a need to carry out an intimate exam. Key points from the guidance include:
- A chaperone should be offered regardless of the gender of the doctor or the patient
- Patients should be reminded that chaperones are confidential
- Any discussion of chaperones should be documented in the patient notes even if the offer is declined. If a chaperone is present, their name and identity should be recorded
- A trained healthcare professional is the ideal chaperone and they should be present and witness the whole exam. Receptionists and administrative staff, for example, are not suitable
- Friends and family members are usually not suitable as chaperones because they are not impartial or bound by confidentiality but they may be permitted if the patient desires and the doctor is comfortable to proceed.
- Because friends and relatives don’t offer the doctor protection, then a possible solution is to request a healthcare professional to chaperone as well if you are concerned.