Chaperones and their use in the healthcare environment is a delicate issue. Many patients may feel more comfortable during a physical examination if there is a chaperone present. Physicians must balance the patients’ need for privacy with their requirement to maintain professional boundaries in their interactions with patients.
Earlier this month, the Georgia Composite Medical Board reviewed the chaperone guidelines for Georgia physicians and some updates were made. For an examination of the breast and/or genitalia with a patient of the opposite sex, a physician, must comply with Rule 360-3-.02(12). For all other examinations the following applies:
- Respect the patient’s dignity by making an effort to create a comfortable and considerate environment for the patient
- Use appropriate gowns, private facilities, sensitive draping, and clear explanations regarding components of the physical examination.
- Physicians should have a policy that patients can request a chaperone, and all patients should be made aware of this policy directly
- All chaperone requests should be honored
- Chaperones should be an authorized health professional
- Patient privacy and confidentiality must be a priority. It is crucial that once the examination has concluded the chaperone leaves the room so the patient and physician can have a private conversation.
These chaperone guidelines, as outlined by the Georgia Composite Medical Board, should be followed by all physicians practicing in the state of Georgia.