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Chaperoning male patients
  1. Colm O'Mahony
  1. Department of Genito-Urinary Medicine, Countess of Chester Hospital, Liverpool Road, Chester CH2 1UL, UK

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    Editor,—I was delighted to see the letter by Fisk et al in the journal.1 My staff and I were becoming alarmed at the suggestion that male patients should have a chaperone when they are being examined by a male doctor. Was common sense finally leaving the specialty? There are thousands of consultations taking place throughout the country, in both primary and secondary care, where sexual issues are discussed. These often include a genital examination, and just because there is a problem found with one or two individual patients or doctors it doesn't mean the whole national service has to be turned upside down. Surely, the last thing an overworked, under pressure, genitourinary medicine service needs is to have another section of its skilled staff standing idly by in a room, while either a consultation or examination is taking place. I have never found any difficulty in taking the swabs on my own, and labelling the stuff myself, and have never felt the need for another person handing me things during a male examination. Indeed, I could easily see that interfering with the process at times, as there are some issues patients feel more comfortable discussing on a one to one basis, and they can feel embarrassed and hindered if there is a chaperone present.

    An occasional complaint is a small price to pay for the 99.9% otherwise effective consultations that occur. It's lovely to see work like this published, as it becomes part of the evidence base that says we don't need this kind of interference, and that basic common sense should prevail.

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