Three's a crowd
In an increasing litigious society, do chaperones have a role in medical practice? Kunal Kulkarni looks at the arguments for and against
A £3.2m ($5.5m; a4.7m) investigation by the Sunday Times led to the conviction of two psychiatrists, William Kerr and Michael Haslam, both charged with sexually assaulting more than 77 of their patients in a 20 year period.1 One of the main concerns voiced during this case was how these doctors managed to exploit so many vulnerable patients during consultations.
With cases such as this making headlines, there is no doubt that the role of chaperones is gaining increasing importance. Certainly, medical protection organisations recommend their use for intimate examinations. The issue is far from straightforward, however. Firstly, what is the exact definition and purpose of a chaperone? Secondly, do patients and doctors actually want chaperones to be present, and which examinations need them? Allocation of resources is a concern: with time and staff restrictions, what is the feasibility of implementing chaperones? These and other factors have blurred the picture to