SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
GUIDOZZI, Y; GARDNER, J and DHAI, A. Professionalism in the intimate examination: How healthcare practitioners feel about having chaperones present during an intimate consultation and examination. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2013, vol.103, n.1, pp. 25-27. ISSN 2078-5135.
BACKGROUND: Despite the clear prohibition against sexual relations with one's patients, complaints of a sexual nature against practitioners registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) have been increasing. The HPCSA does not provide ethical guidelines regarding the use of a chaperone during intimate examinations. AIMS: (i) To ascertain how a group of medical practitioners felt about the presence of chaperones during the consultation and intimate examination of patients; (ii) to determine whether they currently engage the services of chaperones; (iii) to assess how they felt about consensual sexual relationships between medical practitioners and their patients. METHODS: A self-administered, questionnaire-based survey was distributed to gynaecologists and medical practitioners. RESULTS: There was a 43% response rate with 72% of practitioners in favour of using a chaperone during an intimate examination, although only 27% always do so. Most practitioners felt that consensual sexual relationships with patients are unacceptable; 83% felt that ethical guidelines on this topic were needed. CONCLUSION: The HPCSA should develop guidelines on the use of chaperones to assist practitioners. With medical litigation increasing, using chaperones will benefit patients and practitioners.