Why a Medical Chaperone Policy?

Among other reasons, the goals of this policy are to:

  • Prioritize the safety, privacy and dignity of all patients
  • Enhance patient understanding of healthcare procedures
  • Help patients understand that they can ask questions and stop an examination or procedure at any time they feel uncomfortable
  • Promote an organizational culture of safety and care 

Intimate Examination

This policy defines intimate examinations to include genital, pelvic, rectal, and breast exams. SHS recognizes that some patients consider any visual exam or palpation of a body part that is normally covered by clothing to be intimate. For this reason, SHS will also accept and respect our patients’ right to request a medical chaperone for any exam they feel would make them uncomfortable, even if it falls outside this policy’s definition of an intimate examination. 

Medical Chaperone

This person is an objective observer with medical training who, by mutual understanding and agreement, is present during an exam or procedure to support patient dignity, privacy and consent, and to foster effective communication between clinician and patient.

In the SHS clinic, medical assistants and nursing staff will serve as medical chaperones. A patient’s friend or family serving as their companion is not a substitute for a trained medical chaperone.


  1. Every patient being treated at SHS has the right to request a medical chaperone for any type of examination. Every effort will be made to honor this request at the time a patient requests it. If no medical chaperone is immediately available, the patient will be offered alternatives such as scheduling with a provider of a different gender, or at a time when a chaperone will be available.
  2. Every patient who needs an intimate exam defined as a genital, pelvic, rectal or breast examination, regardless of their or the clinician’s gender, will be offered a medical chaperone. Clinicians will explain to patients the rationale for the exam, what to expect during the exam, and the role of the medical chaperone. 


  1. A patient has the right to decline a medical chaperone during an intimate exam. Clinicians are not required to proceed if they do not feel comfortable performing the exam without a medical chaperone. If a clinician is not comfortable proceeding without a medical chaperone, they will discuss and document alternatives acceptable to both patient and clinician. 
  2. SHS clinicians will document 1) that the patient understands the rationale for the intimate exam and consents to it, 2) whether a medical chaperone was present, and if so, who served in this capacity, or 3) that a chaperone was offered but declined.