UHS values the safety and dignity of our patients. As part of our commitment to creating a respectful, comfortable environment, we provide chaperones during Sensitive Exams or Procedures, as well as upon request.
Chaperones assist both patients and providers in completing sensitive exams and procedures in a consistent, safe, and respectful manner. Chaperones can help protect and enhance a patient’s sense of privacy, security, and dignity in sensitive situations. They can help ease distress among patients with mental health considerations, neurodevelopment disorders, or who for cultural or religious reasons may find certain procedures threatening or confusing. Their presence also assists providers by reinforcing our culture of reliability and protects them from allegations of improper behavior.
This educational video was produced by Michigan Medicine and explains their policy and use of chaperones. Please note that UHS is not Michigan Medicine, although UHS has similar policies and procedures regarding chaperones.
What is a chaperone?
A chaperone acts as a witness during sensitive medical exams and procedures or upon request. Chaperones protect both patients and providers by helping create a neutral, safe, respectful environment.
Who can serve as a chaperone?
The chaperone may be a trained health professional or staff member. Whenever possible, the chaperone should be the gender that the patient feels most comfortable with. Family members and friends of adult patients should not serve as chaperones, but may be present during chaperoned procedures if the patient requests.
What does the chaperone do?
The chaperone’s primary role is to observe and to provide reassurance and comfort to the patient. The chaperone will stand in an unobtrusive location during the procedure and provide assistance to the provider and support to the patient if needed. The chaperone may also assist the patient with personal hygiene, toileting, or dressing needs if the patient needs or requests assistance.
Any chaperone who witnesses inappropriate or unacceptable behavior on the part of a healthcare provider is required to report it immediately.
Can a patient decline to have a chaperone present during an exam or procedure?
Chaperones are intended to create a safe environment for both patients and providers. Adult patients who are able make their own medical decisions have the right to decline the presence of a chaperone (this will be noted in the patient record). However, providers may decide not to perform a particular exam or procedure without a chaperone present.
For adult patients lacking the capacity to give informed consent or considered to be vulnerable in another capacity, and for all adolescent patients, the presence of a chaperone is mandatory during sensitive exams or procedures.
What is a “sensitive” exam or procedure?
A sensitive examination or procedure includes the physical examination of or a procedure involving the genitalia or rectum (regardless of gender) or female breast. Additionally, patients may find certain exams or procedures stressful or distressing due to mental health needs, neurodevelopment issues, or cultural or religious reasons — chaperones may be requested or provided for these situations as well. Learn more about Sensitive Exams or Procedures.