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How to solve dilemma of having chaperone present

With reference to Dr Stefan Cembrowicz's article 'Consultation that calls for a chaperone' (February 16), I always offer a chaperone to female patients. Many do not understand what this means due to lack of education/language problems or why the GP would want another female in the room and I explain the role that they have.

The response is enlightening. Some say: 'But I have known you for years; what are you going to do me? Will the chaperone examine me? The other doctors don't do this.' And particularly from mothers whose childbirth experiences are still fresh in their mind: 'After childbirth there is nothing you could do to embarrass me.'

I make sure I introduce the chaperone and emphasise that they will be present during the examination. The chaperone must record her presence using her own identity on the computer or it could be argued that the GP recorded it on his screen without a chaperone being present.

I would never leave the door ajar and all doors to the surgery have a key padlock on them which is always on 'open' during surgery. The patient would assume the door was not locked if they walked through it without it having to be unlocked by the GP.

In our practice of 14,000 patients and several other community clinics there are occasionally patients who come in the surgery inadvertently and the sound of a door opening allows a few seconds to prevent subsequent embarrassment for both the patient with a speculum inside her and the patient who expected to have a joint injection or their bunions treated.

Dr Grant Winstock

London SW18

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