medpagetoday.com – A third person is just a third wheel in a trusting doctor-patient relationship.
Yale-New Haven Hospital and affiliated clinics have a rule that a chaperone must be present for any examination of so-called “sensitive” areas, including breasts, genitalia, and perianal area.
Having a chaperone present is mandatory, and in visits to my gynecologist at Yale, I have been told that I am unable to refuse one.
What proper chaperoning looks like is not clearly defined. During my examination, the chaperone has either stood behind a curtain (unable to see me) or has averted her eyes.
Presumably, she looks away to provide some sense of privacy instead of watching the doctor and me (also a doctor) with an eagle eye. While I appreciate the consideration, the usefulness or protection provided by requiring a chaperone remains questionable.
Inefficient and Delayed Care
Many different kinds of physicians may need to examine the breasts, genital area, or perianal area of their patients. The gynecologist or urologist typically examines the genitalia, and certain procedures like colonoscopies definitely involve the perianal area.
Additionally, primary care or pediatrician visits might include a breast exam; surgeons, oncologists, and dermatologists also examine these sensitive areas in some cases.
The list goes on. At many health facilities, all of these visits would need to involve a chaperone.
Some medical organizations, such as the American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, recommend that a chaperone is present for all breast, genital, and rectal examinations; other bodies, such as the American Medical Association, endorse having medical chaperones available for patients to request during examinations.
Chaperones Can Harm the Doctor-Patient Relationship
Advocates for chaperones claim that chaperoning provides comfort, safety, privacy, and security for both the patient and physician.
While this can be the case when a patient wants a chaperone and feels comfortable with the chaperone they’re given, I can personally attest to the fact that it’s not always true when chaperones are required …