What is a Chaperone?

Chaperones for MSU Health Care Patients

Michigan State University values the safety and dignity of our patients.  As part of our commitment to creating a respectful, comfortable environment, we provide chaperones during Sensitive Exams or Procedures, as well as upon request. 

Chaperones assist both patients and providers in completing sensitive exams and procedures in a consistent, safe, and respectful manner. Chaperones can help protect and enhance a patient’s sense of privacy, security, and dignity in sensitive situations. They can help ease distress among patients with mental health considerations, neurodevelopmental disorders, or who for cultural or religious reasons may find certain procedures threatening or confusing. Their presence also assists providers by reinforcing our culture of reliability and care.

What is a chaperone?

A chaperone is an observer who may assist our patients and providers during sensitive examinations, treatments, or procedures, or upon request. Chaperones protect both patients and providers by helping create a neutral, safe, respectful environment.

Who can serve as a chaperone?

The chaperone may be a trained health professional or staff member. We will make every effort to ensure the chaperone is the gender the patient is most comfortable with. Family members and friends of adult patients should not serve as chaperones but may be present during chaperoned procedures if the patient requests.

What does the chaperone do?

A chaperone provided by MSU Health Care has many responsibilities. These include providing emotional comfort, providing gowns/sheet to ensure privacy, assist with interpreting instructions, and ensure continuing consent to the exam/treatment/procedure. They do not need to be present through-out a patient visit with their provider such as when discussion of health history is being gathered. The chaperone will stand in an unobtrusive location during the procedure and aid the provider and support to the patient if needed.

Any chaperone who witnesses inappropriate or unacceptable behavior on the part of a healthcare provider is required to report it immediately.

When will I have a chaperone?

Chaperones are required for “sensitive” exams and procedures and will be present unless you waive their presence. MSU Health Care patients also have the right to have a chaperone present for any treatment, exam, procedure, or consultation. If you would like to have a chaperone, let your provider know. If you notify the clinic in advance, they can plan to have a chaperone available. If you ask for a chaperone at any time during your visit, your provider will not proceed until a chaperone is available.

Can I decline to have a chaperone present during an exam or procedure?

Chaperones are intended to create a safe environment for both patients and providers. Adult patients who are able make their own medical decisions have the right to decline the presence of a chaperone by signing a waiver (this will be noted in the patient record). Parents may decline the presence of a chaperone for a patient under the age of 18 by signing a waiver. However, providers may decide not to perform an exam or procedure without a chaperone present.

What is a “sensitive” exam or procedure?

A sensitive examination or procedure includes the physical examination of or a procedure involving the genitalia or rectum (regardless of gender) or female breast. No sensitive examinations will be performed via telehealth.

Where can I learn more about MSU Health Care's Chaperone Policy?

View MSU Health Care’s full policy Chaperone Policy Language

View the Patient Guide to Adult Sensitive Exams

View the Patient/Family Guide to Pediatric Sensitive Exams