Medical Chaperones for Sensitive Examinations, Treatments and Procedures

A medical chaperone is required during all sensitive portions of a visit. Sensitive visits include any examinations, treatments, or procedure of the genitals, rectum, or breast. These procedures include:

  • Pelvic examination
  • Intravaginal physical therapy
  • Examinations, treatments, or procedures of or involving the external genitalia
  • Examinations, treatments, or procedures of the breast(s)
  • Rectal examinations, treatments, or procedures

What is a medical chaperone?

A medical chaperone is a trained Yale Health employee who assists and observes during the portion of a visit that includes a sensitive examination. The chaperone’s role is to ensure patient and provider comfort, safety, privacy, and security during these exams or procedures. For patients under 13, a parent or guardian may act as the chaperone. The patient or provider performing the exam, treatment, or procedure may request a chaperone in addition to the guardian.

Why is Yale Health implementing this policy?

Providing chaperones during sensitive examinations is recommended as a best practice by the American Medical Association and has been adopted by healthcare institutions throughout the country. Yale Health has adopted the medical chaperone policy in conjunction with the Yale Medicine and Yale New Haven Health systems as part of a community standard and best practice and not in response to specific incidents.

Can I request a chaperone for visits that are not sensitive in nature?

Yes. Patients may request a chaperone during any visit and for any reason. Yale Health is obligated to provide a chaperone when one is requested by the patient or provider. If a chaperone is not available when requested, the patient may reschedule the examination, treatment, or procedure.

Can I request a chaperone of a specific gender?

Patients may request a chaperone of a specific gender, and Yale Health will attempt to accommodate that request. If Yale Health is unable to accommodate, the patient may choose to move forward with the visit with a chaperone not of their preferred gender, or may reschedule the appointment to a time when Yale Health can accommodate the request. 

When does the chaperone enter/exit the examination room?

The chaperone will only be in the examination room during the sensitive portion of the exam, unless the chaperone is also providing medical assistance to the physician or advanced practice provider.

Why can’t I decline a chaperone when one is required?

Chaperones are a healthcare best practice and assist both patients and providers in completing visits in a consistent, safe, and respectful manner. The policy is in accordance with a nationwide effort to ensure safety and dignity for both patients and providers during sensitive visits. Yale Health is committed to providing chaperones in a way that is comfortable for our patients. If you feel uneasy or you need more information about what will happen during your exam, please ask us. We are here to help you prepare for medical care that requires a chaperone.

Is a chaperone needed in the case of medically urgent examinations, treatments, or procedures?

No. If a chaperone is not immediately available in an emergency situation that would typically require a chaperone, the procedure may occur without a chaperone. Following the visit, the clinician will need to provide detailed documentation about why the exam, treatment, or procedure needed to proceed without a chaperone.

Updated October 15, 2021