Clinical Chaperone Program

University Health Services (UHS) is committed to a culture of safety, dignity, respect, and patient privacy. 

Sensitive examinations are times when these values are especially important to uphold. 

UHS seeks to provide a safe and empowering experience during sensitive examinations by engaging patients in the informed consent process and offering clinical chaperones. 

Our goal is to ensure that patients are informed, active partners in their healthcare.

What is a sensitive examination? 

We define a sensitive examination as a physical examination of body parts that are typically covered by undergarments such as underwear and bra. These body parts include genitals, pubic and pelvic region, buttocks and anal/rectal region, and breasts. Additionally, since every patient has a different history and a different experience with their body, you may define other body parts as sensitive. How you define your sensitive body parts also may vary from day to day. We encourage you to let us know if you have specific needs or concerns about any physical examination of your body. We can always make time to discuss this with you in more detail. 

Learn more about sensitive examinations.

What is a clinical chaperone? 

A clinical chaperone is a member of the UHS nursing team who has specific training in providing support for a safe, respectful and dignified interaction between provider and patient during a sensitive examination. You can and should request a clinical chaperone any time you feel it would improve your sense of safety and respect at University Health Services. Your provider also can request a clinical chaperone if they feel it would support the safety, dignity, and respect of the interaction. 

What is informed consent? 

As with all aspects of your health care, you have a right to control what does and does not happen with your body during your visit to University Health Services. 

If your provider determines that a sensitive examination is necessary to best evaluate your health concerns, they will obtain informed consent from you prior to the exam. 

This conversation will include information about why your provider feels this examination is clinically necessary, what the exam will involve, and a discussion about the use of a clinical chaperone. You will have a chance to ask questions. 

Remember, this conversation is designed to give you information to make a good decision about your own health. The choice is always yours. You can always decline the examination or change your mind about your decision at any point. 

What can I expect from a clinical chaperone during a sensitive exam?

Clinical chaperones will typically come into the room for the sensitive examination only, unless you prefer a different arrangement. They will stand in a place where they can actively support both you and your provider without impacting your right to privacy any more than is strictly necessary. They are also available to assist either you or your provider if asked to do so. Once your exam is complete, they will usually leave the exam room with your provider to allow you to get dressed in private. 

Can I request a chaperone with a specific identity? 

It is vitally important to us that you feel comfortable with, protected by, and respected by the clinical chaperone. If you have specific needs regarding the identity (gender or otherwise) of your clinical chaperone, please let us know and we will do everything we can to accommodate that need. If we cannot accommodate your needs due to staffing, we will work with you to find a mutually acceptable alternative plan.

Other UHS commitments during sensitive examinations

  • We will always give you with privacy to undress and dress.
  • We will provide drapes, gowns, and shorts that allow you adequate cover for your body during an examination.
  • We will uncover only the parts of your body that need to be examined and keep them uncovered for the shortest time necessary to allow for appropriate examination. 
  • We will foster a culture of responsibility and accountability within University Health Services, to include clear reporting mechanisms should anyone suspect unsafe or unprofessional behavior. 
  • We will continue to monitor research and best practices regarding sensitive examinations, chaperone use, and respectful clinical care. We will adjust and improve our policies and practices as needed. 
  • We will listen to you when you have questions, voice concerns, or provide feedback. 

How do I report a concern? 

You can speak to someone right away if you feel comfortable doing so; let any staff member know you need to speak with a Patient Advocate Nurse. If you prefer to make a phone report, call 541-346-4447. If you prefer to submit a written report, you can access our online patient feedback form.