A Patient Complaint Following an Intimate Examination in Private Practice
Reflection points from this scenario
Mr C did not comply with GMC guidance regarding offering a chaperone for this sensitive examination.
He should have discussed the use of a chaperone before asking Mrs S to undress. As a nurse was not available, he should have given her the option to rearrange the appointment to allow for a chaperone to be present.
Ideally, the chaperone should be a healthcare professional, eg, a nurse. However, as an alternative, he could have asked his receptionist to act as the chaperone if she had been trained for this role.
The GMC in: Intimate examinations and chaperones states in Para 9 that: "A chaperone should usually be a health professional…"
Para 10: “A relative or friend of the patient is not an impartial observer and so would not usually be a suitable chaperone, but you should comply with a reasonable request to have such a person present as well as a chaperone.”
Mrs S could have requested her female companion be present during the examination to provide emotional support.
The consultant's actions caused Mrs S discomfort and additional anxiety. It is clear the patient did not feel she could raise her concerns at the time of the consultation.
A cloth modesty blanket is not a suitable covering to be used for multiple patients, as reusable fabrics used in close contact with patients can become contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms. For modesty, Mrs S should have been provided with a length of disposable examination roll paper.
Mr C should contact the PMP medicolegal helpline, provided by Clyde & Co LLP (a law firm) to seek their advice and assistance in preparing an appropriate response to Mrs S's complaint.
Information correct at time of publication June 2022
(Originally published September 2021)