A6. You must respect your patients’ dignity and modesty.

  1. Patients will have different requirements for maintaining their dignity and modesty during a consultation, and you must be sensitive to these. Some of these ideas may have been shaped by a patient’s culture or religion, but it is unwise to make assumptions about any patient’s ideas of modesty.
  2. You should respect your patients’ dignity and modesty by:
    1. explaining to patients in advance of their first appointment that they may be asked to undress for examination and treatment
    2. allowing a patient to undress, and get dressed again, without being observed
    3. only observing a patient undressing if you consider this necessary for the purposes of diagnosis or treatment – this must be explained to the patient and consent obtained; if the patient does not wish to be observed, you must respect their wishes and find another way of establishing the clinical information you need
    4. giving patients the option of covering areas of their body that do not need to be exposed for examination or treatment. This can be achieved by providing a suitable gown or cover, asking that they only remove such items of clothing as are necessary for the proposed examination or treatment, or providing the opportunity to get dressed again in full or part as appropriate. If you feel it is necessary for the examination or treatment that the patient is undressed to their underwear, you should explain this to the patient, and seek their consent.
  3. If it becomes necessary during examination or treatment to adjust or remove items of the patient’s clothing or underwear, they should be asked to do this themselves. If it is necessary for you to assist them, then you must have their consent to do so.
  4. If you need your patient to remove underwear for an examination or treatment, you should ask them to put their underwear back on at the conclusion of that particular examination or treatment and before you continue with any other procedure.
  5. You must always ask a patient if they would like a chaperone when:
    1. you examine or treat an intimate area
    2. you are treating a patient under 16 years of age
    3. you are treating an adult who lacks capacity
    4. you are treating a patient in their home.
  6. A chaperone can be:
    1. a relative or friend of the patient
    2. a suitable person from your practice but not your spouse or personal partner.
  7. If the patient wishes to have a chaperone and neither you nor the patient is able to provide one, you should offer to rearrange the appointment.
  8. If a chaperone is present, you should record this in the patient records. If a patient within one of the categories in paragraph A6(5) declines the offer of a chaperone, you should record this in the patient’s notes.