We know some medical exams and procedures are more sensitive than others. However, in our opinion all medical consultations, examinations and investigations have the potential to be distressing to patients. On this basis, patients should feel empowered to request a medical chaperone, if it is not offered, as an option to them. This is especially important during intimate examinations that are particularly intrusive and involve the breasts, genitalia or rectum.
For most patients respect, explanation, consent and dignity are all that they need to feel comfortable and safe and this should take precedence over the need for a chaperone. However, it is important that children and patients who feel vulnerable are provided with medically qualified and trained chaperones. A chaperone does not remove the need for adequate explanation and courtesy during medical examinations. Neither can it provide full assurance that the procedure or examination is conducted appropriately.
Medical staff and patients must be aware that a chaperones purpose is to ultimately protect both parties.
Frequently asked questions.
What is considered a “sensitive” exam or procedure?
Any physical exam of the male or female genitals or rectum or female breasts is considered “sensitive.” These include exams of the breasts, pubic/groin region, vulva and vagina, penis, scrotum, and rectum.
What does the chaperone do?
The chaperone’s job is to ensure patient and provider comfort, safety, privacy, security and dignity during exams or procedures. The chaperone will stand in a location where he or she can observe what is going on to ensure patient safety.
Can I request a chaperone for exams that are not sensitive in nature?
Yes. As a patient you should the right to request a chaperone for any type of medical examination.
Can I decline to have a chaperone present during my exam or procedure?
Yes. Adults can make their own medical decisions to decline a chaperone if offered one. However,
the parent or guardian may act as the chaperone and stay in the room for children under 18.
Please note: A health care provider may also decide not to perform an examination or procedure unless a chaperone is present for their own protection.
What to expect during sensitive examinations as a minimum.
Explanation – including why it is needed, what the procedure involves, and how it may feel.
Privacy – including a private place to undress. You should NOT have to undress in front of medical staff.
Covering – including a Gown, Sheet or a Drape should be offered to you if your body is exposed.
Conversation – The medical staff should NEVER make sexual remarks, hints or jokes before, during or after your medical procedure or examination.
Stop – You have the right to refuse any portion of an exam or stop it in its entirety, any time you feel uncomfortable.