top of page

Medical Chaperone

A chaperone can be described as an independent person who serves as a witness for both a person accessing healthcare and a healthcare practitioner. They act as a safeguard for both parties during intimate examinations or procedures where a person may need to undress and consent to care of private areas of their body.

The relationship between a person accessing healthcare and a healthcare practitioner is based on trust. Any person, of any gender, is entitled to a chaperone for any consultation, examination, or intervention if they feel one is required.


 

Why Chaperone?

  • Safeguard patients throughout the consultation, examination, treatment, and care.

  • Ensure vulnerable adult and children’s safety, privacy and dignity is maintained.

  • Provide practical support  and to assist with undressing.

  • Provide practical assistance before, during or after any examination or procedure.

  • Provide help to avoid an unnecessary discomfort, pain, humiliation, or intimidation.

  • Provide emotional comfort and reassurance during vulnerable moments.

  • Act to intervene if any untoward behaviour or action by the practitioner happens.

  • Act as an impartial observer or witness and act as an advocate for the person accessing healthcare.

  • Act to minimise the risk of a healthcare practitioner’s action being misinterpreted.

  • Act to protect the practitioner against unfounded accusation of improper conduct

Intimate examinations:
Intimate examinations include the examination of breasts, genitalia or rectum. Intimate examinations and procedures can be stressful and embarrassing for patients.

Non-Intimate Examinations

Not all examinations are classed as intimate and will most likely not require a chaperone. However, every person accessing healthcare has the right to request a chaperone be present.

 


Basic things to expect during sensitive examinations.

  • Explanation – what the procedure involves, why it is needed, and how it may feel.

  • Privacy – you should NOT have to undress in front of staff, a private place should be offered.

  • Covering – if your body is exposed a Gown, Sheet or a Drape should be offered to you.

  • Stop – You have the right to refuse or STOP an examination any time you feel uncomfortable.

  • Conversation – sexual remarks, hints or jokes about you, your body, or your history should NEVER happen.

  • I feel uncomfortable or confused about a recent medical examination or procedure.
    Many victims and survivors of Sexual Abuse or Sexual Misconduct are confused about their treatment or examinations when accessing health care in any medical, therapeutic or psychiatric setting. Talking through your experience with our trained and qualified staff can alleviate some of the confusion and anxiety. Our aim is to help you address your concerns in a constructive manner and outline all support options available for you (e.g., information, support with engaging with Gardai, making a statement, reporting the abuse to the hospital or care home, reporting to the Medical Council, obtaining counselling services).
  • I feel I have experienced sexual misconduct by a healthcare professional what can I do?
    We are a victim-centred organisation, and our services are designed to help health care users understand what has happened to them. To provide a safe place to talk and access support and information. Our aim is to assist victims and survivors and their families on a path to dealing with the trauma of sexual abuse in health care settings and helping them to seek justice and enhance their empowerment in that process.
  • What support services are available for survivors of sexual abuse in health care settings?
    Dignity4Patients aims to provide Support, Advocacy & Information services to patients who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse or other sexual misconduct when accessing healthcare provision in Ireland. We put you the victim first and will support you in dealing with the experience you had and supporting you in reporting it to the relevant authorities. Reporting the crime helps seek restorative justice for you and stops further harm to others.
  • Are your services confidential?
    At Dignity4Patients we understand that talking about your experience is sensitive and traumatising. As such any contact with our organisation, whether by phone, in person or at one of our support meetings is in total confidence. We are committed to protecting you and your information and data. No information about you will be shared with others without your explicit consent first.
  • How do I access your services?
    Contact with Dignity4Patients as easy, you can contact our helpline service by Phone: 041 984 3730, Text to: 086-1654111, or Email us at: support@dignity4patients.org. This can be completed anonymously at first if you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Following the initial contact all victims and survivors are encouraged to attend an in-person appointment with our staff to discuss your options and complete any necessary paperwork. If you cannot come to us, we will try and arrange a way to meet with you.
  • Can you help me make a complaint or could you accompany me to do so?
    Reporting an allegation of Sexual Abuse or Sexual Misconduct can be a daunting experience. To assist you, we can support you in reporting what has happened, or can report the incident to certain authorities on your behalf. Also if requested, we an accompany you to any reporting settings such as making a Garda Statement, attending a Complaints Hearing or supporting you as a witness in Court.
  • How can I find a theaprist or counselor experienced in working with survivors of Sexual Abuse?
    To find a therapist or counsellor experienced in working with survivors of sexual abuse, we recommend referring to our Patient Resource section where you can find our recommendations support services. HELPLINE: 041 – 9843730 SMS TEXT: 086 – 1654111 EMAIL: support@dignity4patients.org MONDAY to THURSDAY 10am - 4pm OUT OF HOURS 1800 778 888
  • What legal options do I have to report historical or recent Sexual Abuse by a doctor or health care professional?
    If you have experienced sexual abuse by a doctor or healthcare professional, you have legal options to report the abuse. You can file a complaint with the appropriate licensing board, file a police report, seek legal advice or reach out to organisations like Dignity4Patients that provide support and guidance for survivors of healthcare-related abuse.
  • How can I support a friend or loved on who has been sexually abused by a health care practitioner?
    Supporting a friend or loved one who has experienced sexual abuse by a healthcare practitioner is crucial. Listen to them without judgment, encourage them to seek professional help from therapists or support organisations such as Dignity4Patients, respect their decisions regarding legal action, and provide emotional support throughout their healing process.
  • What rights do I have as a patient in relation to my care by a health care practitioner?
    As a patient, you have rights regarding your care by a healthcare practitioner. These include the right to receive respectful and compassionate treatment, the right to informed consent and participation in your treatment decisions, the right to privacy and confidentiality, the right to access your medical records, and the right to report any concerns or file complaints about your care.
  • Should I offer a chaperone for intimate examinations?
    The Medical Council’s Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics encourages the use of Chaperones for intimate examinations. Ideally a chaperone should be a specially trained member of staff to ensure that the person being provided the care, as well as the practitioner, are comfortable, feel safe, have privacy, security and dignity during any examination or procedure. A chaperone should stand in a location where he/she can observe what is happening and act as a witness of the intimate examination. This is to ensure it is completed correctly and safely for both parties involved. See our Chaperone section for more information. https://www.medicalindependent.ie/comment/medico-legal/chaperones-a-timely-reminder/
  • What is classed as Sexual Misconduct by a healthcare practitioner?
    Sexual misconduct by a medical professional can be something as simple as behaviour or remarks of a sexual nature towards the patient, to inappropriate touching, of a sexual nature. On a more serious level, it can involve inappropriate sexual relations, including sexual intimacy between a person accessing care and their caregiver, to requesting sexual favours in return for medical treatment or medicine.
  • What is practitioner misconduct between a person accessing health care services and a healthcare practitioner?
    Practitioner misconduct involves crossing the line (often called boundary violations) between being a professional caregiver and taking personal advantage of a person accessing health care provision, which in and of itself puts the patient or care receiver in a more vulnerable situation. Some examples of behaviour that can lead to practitioner misconduct are:-swapping personal contact details; giving gifts to the patient; keeping secrets with the patient; discussing personal private matters unrelated to a patient's care; switching assignments to care for a specific patient. While none of the above actions is wrong, they can lead to boundary violations and, eventually, sexual misconduct
  • When accessing health care services can a patient consent to sexual interactions with a healthcare practitioner?
    Sexual Abuse by healthcare and medical practitioners is defined more broadly than Sexual Abuse under criminal law. Medical and healthcare practitioners are accountable for putting the needs of health service users first. Safe patient care is the only goal of the caregiver-practitioner relationship. Consent to sexual activities by anyone accessing health care services is immaterial. The obligation for safe health care provision is ultimately with the medical and healthcare professional.
  • I think I have witnessed Sexual Misconduct between a person accessing a health care and a colleague – what should I do?
    Ensuring a culture of safety and vigilance in health care provision requires an environment where people have the confidence to report Sexual Abuse or sexual misconduct concerns, and trust that concerns will be addressed immediately by relevant managers. If you feel uncomfortable reporting to your management, you can report to us and we can help you file a complaint.
  • I am nervous about making a compliant about a colleague to my management or NMBI (Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland?
    As part of its aim of protecting the public, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland is legally responsible for considering complaints against nurses and midwives. If you are nervous about making a complaint due to the repercussions of your colleagues, management team or the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland talk to us first. Alternatively, complaints can be made directly to https://www.nmbi.ie/Complaints/Making-a-Complaint
bottom of page