Box 1: The official guidance
Medical Council of Hong Kong, Professional Code and Conduct for the Guidance of Registered Medical Practitioners (2009)
An intimate examination of a patient is recommended to be conducted in the presence of a chaperone to the knowledge of the patient. If the patient requests to be examined without a chaperone, it is also recommended to record the request in the medical records.
Malaysian Medical Council, Duties of a Doctor: Good Medical Practice (2001)
A doctor must always examine a patient, whether female or male, or a child, with a chaperone being physically present in the consultation room, with visual and aural contact throughout the proceedings.
A relative or friend of the patient is not a reliable chaperone, as he or she may not fully appreciate the nature of the physical examination performed by the doctor and may even testify against the doctor in the event of allegations of misconduct or physical abuse. More importantly the patient may have a need for confidentiality or could well be embarrassed by having a close family or friend witness an intimate examination. Similarly, a relative of the doctor (wife, daughter, etc), who is not an impartial observer, could be prejudicial as a chaperone. These requisites are designed to allow the doctor to proceed with clear, unhampered clinical examination of the patient, as he deems appropriate for the purpose of arriving at a proper diagnosis, without later having to defend his actions.
Singapore Medical Council, Ethical Code and Ethical Guidelines (2002)
Patients shall be treated with courtesy, consideration, compassion and respect. They shall also be offered the right to privacy and dignity. It is recommended that a female chaperone be present where a male doctor examines a female patient. This will protect both the patient’s right to privacy and dignity, as well as the doctor from complaints of molestation.