Definition of Chaperone
A chaperone can be defined as ‘an independent person, appropriately trained, whose role is to observe independently the examination/procedure undertaken by the doctor/health professional to assist the appropriate doctor-patient relationship’.
The term implies that the person may be a healthcare professional. However, it can also mean a specifically trained non-clinical staff member.
Personnel authorised to act as a chaperone
It is policy, that any member of the practice team can act as a chaperone, provided that they have undertaken appropriate chaperone training and have been DBS checked. If a chaperone is not available, the examination should be postponed until a suitable chaperone is present.
Patients will be advised that a family member or friend is not permitted to act as a chaperone as they are not deemed to be impartial even if they have the requisite training or clinical knowledge. However, they may be present during the procedure/examination if the patient is content with this decision.
It may be appropriate to offer a chaperone for a number of reasons. All clinicians will consider using a chaperone for some or all of the consultation and not solely for the purpose of intimate examinations or procedures. This applies whether the clinician is of the same gender as the patient or not.
Before conducting any intimate examination, the clinician must obtain the patient’s consent and:
- Explain to the patient why an examination is necessary and give the patient an opportunity to ask questions
- Explain what the examination will involve, in a way the patient can understand, so that the patient has a clear idea of what to expect, including any pain or discomfort
- Get the patient’s consent before the examination and record that the patient has given it
- Offer the patient a chaperone
- Give the patient privacy to undress and dress and keep them covered as much as possible to maintain their dignity. Do not help the patient to remove clothing unless they have asked you to do so or you have checked with them that they want you to help
- If the patient is a young person or child, we must:
Assess their capacity to consent to the examination
Seek parental consent if they lack capacity,
Ensuring that the patient fully understands the why, what and how of the examination process should mitigate the potential for confusion.
The role of the chaperone
The role of the chaperone varies on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration the need of the patient and the examination or procedure being carried out. A chaperone is present as a safeguard for all parties and is an impartial witness to continuing consent of the examination or procedure.