Chaperone use amongst UK urological surgeons - an evaluation of current practice and opinion

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INTRODUCTIONIntimate examinations are routinely performed by urologists as part of clinical practice. To protect patients and doctors, the General Medical Council offers guidance on the use of chaperones for intimate examinations. We assessed the opinions and use of chaperones amongst members of the British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS).METHODSAn online questionnaire comprising 12 questions on the use of chaperones in clinical practice was sent to all full, trainee and speciality doctor members of BAUS.RESULTSThe questionnaire had a response rate of 26% (n=331). The majority of respondents were consultant urologists, comprising 78.8% (n=261), with a wide range of years of experience. Of the respondents, 38.9% were not aware of the GMC guidance on chaperones. While 72.5% always used a chaperone., 22.9% never use a chaperone when the patient was of the same sex. Chaperones were most commonly used for intimate examinations (64.6%), and for examinations involving members of the opposite sex (77.3%). A majority of respondents felt that chaperones protect both the patient (77.3%), and the doctor (96.6%). However, 42.5% did not feel that using a chaperone assists the doctor’s examination, and some (17.2%) participants felt that chaperones were unnecessary.CONCLUSIONSThis study shows considerable variability amongst urologists in their use of chaperones. A significant proportion of respondents were not aware of the GMC guidelines and did not regularly use a chaperone during an intimate examination. In addition, practice appears to be gender biased. Further study and education is suggested.

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