We sometimes require that a doctor has a chaperone present to observe their consultations with patients. We do this to mitigate risk to the patient where there are concerns that the doctor poses a risk of harm or serious risk of harm to the public.
This is different from when a chaperone is preset as a matter of good medical practice.
When is a chaperone required
We may require that a doctor has a chaperone present when:
- we've received allegations that the doctor has breached professional boundaries which cast doubt on the appropriateness of the doctor's conduct, or
- allegations regarding the doctor's conduct are proven by the Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (the Tribunal) and the Tribunal has ordered conditions which include the requirement of a chaperone.
Role of the chaperone
The main role of the chaperone is to be physically present during the consultation and to directly observe all contact between the doctor and the patient.
The chaperone will also:
- Obtain the informed consent of the patient to the chaperone being present, during the consultation. If the patient does not consent, the chaperone will ensure the doctor does not treat or see the patient, and ensure the patient is referred to anothe doctor.
- Intervene where they believe the doctor's contact with the patient is inappropriate and/or falls below the reasonable standard of skill or competence. The chaperone will immediately notify Council following any intervention including the reasons for the intervention.
- Ensure the doctor correctly records the details of any contact in the patient's clinical record including recording that a chaperone was present during the consultation.
- Record in the patient's clinical record that a chaperone was present as well as any discussion the chaperone had with the patient.
Rights of the patient
Patient must be told about the requirement of a chaperone. This should occur at the time they book their appointment wherever possible. The patient will not be told the reason for the requirement of a chaperone - only that it is a Council requirement.
The patient can then either consent to the presence of the chaperone, or ask to be referred to another doctor. If they ask to be referred, this request should be accomodated by the doctor/practice.
Patients cannot choose their own chaperone. Chaperones are approved by Council and receive training in how to perform this role. This means the chaperone is still required to be present even if you have someone attend the consultation with you (e.g. your partner or parent).
The Information Sheet for Approved Chaperones provides guidance for chaperones around their role and responsibilities. Council's Chaperone Policy outlines the process that we follow when we require a chaperone be present during a doctor's consultations with patients.