SHCS is committed to a culture of safety, respect, dignity and patient privacy. Sensitive exams are times when these values are especially important to uphold. As such, SHCS offers clinical chaperones to patients to ensure that they are informed, active partners in their healthcare.
A clinical chaperone is a trained professional or staff member who acts as an extra set of eyes and ears for the patient and provider offering emotional reassurance to patients and possible assistance during a sensitive exam or procedure. Having a clinical chaperone can enhance a patient's sense of security and alleviate anxiety for patients who may find exams distressing.
Sensitive exams or visits include any examinations, treatments, or procedures of the pubic/groin region (for hernia), genitals (vulva and vagina, penis and scrotum), breasts, buttocks, or rectum.
These procedures include:
- Pelvic examinations
- Examinations, treatments, or procedures of or involving the internal or external genitalia
- Examinations, treatments, or procedures of the breast(s)
- Rectal examinations, treatments, or procedures
Patients undergoing a sensitive exam at SHCS will have a clinical chaperone present during the exam, but can opt out, declining the presence of a chaperone if the provider agrees to perform the exam or procedure without a chaperone present. Family members and friends cannot act as a chaperone.
What do clinical chaperones do?
The chaperone is a specially trained member of the SHCS team. Their job is to ensure patient and provider comfort, safety, privacy, security, and dignity during these exams or procedures. The chaperone will stand in an obtrusive location where he/she/they can observe what is going on and assist as needed during the sensitive portion of the exam. The clinical chaperone does not need to be present through-out a patient visit with their provider such as when discussion of health history is being gathered.
The chaperone will:
- be respectful and sensitive to the patient's dignity and confidentiality
- be familiar with the sensitive examination
- be prepared to raise concerns about a provider's behavior or actions
Clinical Chaperone FAQs
- Can I request a chaperone for exams that are not sensitive in nature?
Yes. You can request a chaperone for any type of exam
- Can I decline to have a chaperone present during my exam or procedure?
Yes. Patients can opt out when they arrive at their appointment or after discussing the nature of the exam with the provider or nurse.
- Can my friend or my parent act as my chaperone?
No, a chaperone is a specially trained staff member of SHCS. The health care provider may also decide not to perform an exam or procedure unless a chaperone is present.
- Can I request a chaperone of a specific gender?
Yes. It is important to us that you feel comfortable with and respected by the clinical chaperone. If you prefer a chaperone of a specific gender, let us know when you arrive for your appointment. We will do our best to honor your request. If SHCS is unable to accommodate, the patient may choose to move forward with the visit with a chaperone not of their preferred gender, or may reschedule the appointment to a time when SHCS can accommodate the request.
For ALL sensitive exams, you should expect:
- An explanation of the exam, including why it is needed, what the provider will do, and what it may feel like.
- Privacy to undress and dress. You should NOT be asked to undress or dress in front of a provider or other staff member.
- You should be offered a covering (gown or sheet/drape) that allows you adequate cover for the exposed part(s) of your body.
- You have the right to refuse any portion of an exam or stop it at any time.
- How do I provide feedback or make comments about my examination or chaperone experience?
Please speak up if you feel uncomfortable or notice any odd behavior during your exam or procedure. If you feel you would like to give feedback about your visit and/or examination, please fill out the patient feedback form.
Detailed descriptions of what to expect during each type of sensitive exam are included in the below patient brochures.
Reporting Discrimination, Sexual Violence or Sexual Harassment
To learn more about how to report discrimination, sexual violence and sexual harassment and the resources available to you, please visit the Office of Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation.