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Use of Chaperones

Having chaperones present can help prevent misunderstandings between patient and physician.
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Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 1.2.4

Efforts to provide a comfortable and considerate atmosphere for the patient and the physician are part of respecting patients’ dignity. These efforts may include providing appropriate gowns, private facilities for undressing, sensitive use of draping, and clearly explaining various components of the physical examination. They also include having chaperones available. Having chaperones present can also help prevent misunderstandings between patient and physician.

Physicians should:

(a) Adopt a policy that patients are free to request a chaperone and ensure that the policy is communicated to patients.

(b) Always honor a patient’s request to have a chaperone.

(c) Have an authorized member of the health care team serve as a chaperone. Physicians should establish clear expectations that chaperones will uphold professional standards of privacy and confidentiality.

(d) In general, use a chaperone even when a patient’s trusted companion is present.

(e) Provide opportunity for private conversation with the patient without the chaperone present. Physicians should minimize inquiries or history taking of a sensitive nature during a chaperoned examination.

AMA Principles of Medical Ethics: I, IV

 

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