Clinical Care

New rule adds chaperones to certain medical exams

For patients undergoing a sensitive medical exam, a trained third party can offer assurance.


The Oregon Medical Board now requires all its licensees to offer a trained chaperone to be physically present for any genital and rectal examinations, regardless of gender, and breast examinations for patients who identify as female. The new rule takes effect July 1.

At Asante, this requirement will apply to board licensees and advanced practice nurses who conduct sensitive exams at any Asante location, including inpatient and outpatient departments. Asante has worked diligently to align with this new requirement. Although this implementation is a process that’s not yet complete, we have updated our existing chaperone policy and medical chaperone training to help ensure compliance.

No additional training is required if the chaperone holds an active Oregon license to practice a health care profession (e.g., physician, nurse). If the chaperone lacks a health care professional license (e.g., medical assistant, certified nursing assistant), the chaperone must complete a course for medical chaperones. An Asante training module will be delivered via ALEC/HealthStream to employees who may fulfill a clinical chaperone role.

Sensitive medical exams refer to an examination or procedure of the genitals or rectum regardless of gender, and breast examination for patients who identify as female. Their purpose is to visually assess, palpate and use instruments for the purpose of diagnosing or treating a medical condition.

These exams play a crucial role in diagnosis and treating various health conditions, but they may be uncomfortable and emotionally challenging for patients. The use of clinical chaperones during sensitive medical examinations can help address these concerns. Chaperones provide support, comfort and help ensure a respectful environment for the patient.

Creating a safe and supportive environment

Sensitive medical exams require patients to expose intimate parts of their bodies. This vulnerability can cause distress and anxiety. Chaperones are instrumental in creating a safe and supportive environment for patients and providers, helping them feel more at ease during the examination process.

  • Patient comfort. By acting as a supportive presence throughout the exam, chaperones help alleviate anxiety and build trust between patient and provider.
  • Emotional support. Chaperones understand the potential emotional impact of these exams and are trained to address patients’ emotions with empathy and compassion. Their presence helps patients feel validated, respected and understood during this vulnerable time.
Maintaining professional boundaries

Chaperones play a crucial role in upholding professional boundaries during sensitive medical exams. Their presence serves as a protective measure for patients and providers, ensuring the patient’s rights, dignity and privacy are respected while maintaining a collaborative patient-provider relationship.

  • Preventing misconduct and miscommunication. Chaperones act as impartial observers during the exam, preventing potential misunderstandings and protecting against misconduct. Their presence discourages any inappropriate behavior or communication between the patient and health care provider, maintaining professionalism and patient trust.

Chaperones play a vital role in sensitive exams by providing emotional support, ensuring patient comfort and upholding professional boundaries. Their presence helps alleviate patient anxiety, promotes open communication, safeguards patient rights and dignity, and protects health care professionals against allegations of improper behavior.

By recognizing the importance of chaperones and integrating their role into health care practices, medical professionals can create a more compassionate and patient-centered approach to sensitive examinations. Ultimately, chaperones contribute to a positive health care experience, fostering trust and enhancing patient wellbeing.

To learn more about the new chaperone rule, review the Oregon Medical Board Chaperone FAQs.

Tags: chaperone, Chris Jostad, Oregon Medical Board, provider, rule, sensitive medical exam, STAT
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