Chaperones’ vital role

A chaperone should always be offered where any intimate examination is proposed, particularly if a patient has been sedated – even if the doctor and patient are of the same sex, says Dr Gabrielle Pendlebury

An allegation of sexual misconduct involving patients can be potentially devastating for a doctor, impacting negatively on their career and reputation.

So it is essential that doctors do not become complacent and overlook the use of chaperones, when faced with multiple clinical commitments.

These allegations can often arise when least expected, especially at times of high clinical demand, when the search for a chaperone may seem like an unnecessary hindrance to the efficient use of time.

GMC guidance states: ‘Intimate examinations can be embarrassing or distressing for patients and whenever you examine a patient you should be sensitive to what they may think of as intimate.

‘This is likely to include examinations of breasts, genitalia and rectum, but could also include any examination where it is necessary to touch or even be close to the patient.’