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Posted about 1 year ago
Nurses, Whereres a Chaperone When You Need One?
The note read that my teenage son’s class was headed for a weekend fieldtrip to the Chicago Art Museum that would require an overnight stay. Were any parents interested in being chaperons? I thought back to what I wanted to study when I was his age—it wasn’t art! It was the Adonis that also served as our high school quarterback. I signed up immediately.
Do patients need a chaperon? In cases where the patient is one gender and the physician another, it’s often required by hospital policy. Having another person, generally one of the same gender as the patient, be in the room during an exam is standard operating procedure. The New York Times has an article about the theory and practice of using chaperons, along with some fascinating insights about how patients feel about the whole thing.
One of the issues that crops up every time you discuss chaperons is the question of whom the chaperon is there to protect. While the overt reasoning behind having a chaperon is to protect patients from being abused by physicians, it is believed by many that the chaperon policy serves as a line of defense for physicians. The chaperon witnesses everybody’s behavior. His or her presence protects the interest of everyone in the room.
Is this necessary? I’m not sure I have all the answers to all the questions contained in this issue, but I know one thing for sure. We’d all like to have someone looking out for our interests on some level.
Chaperons are there to witness every aspect of patient care. There have been times where I would have loved to have another set of eyes watching my nurse-patient interaction: while you can’t make this stuff up, sometimes providing patient care gives us stories you simply have to see to believe. And if you’ve ever rounded every 15 minutes and observed your patient is alert, oriented, and reporting no pain throughout the entirety of a night shift, only to have that same patient spend the next morning telling anyone in earshot how they suffered incredible torments for hours at a time, completely ignored by the entire nursing staff, you know the value of having someone supporting your side of the story.
Maybe what we need are more chaperons, overseeing the more problematic aspects of healthcare. If the concept works well in one setting, surely it will work well in all settings!
Do you know when I’d really like a chaperon? In the parking lot. It would be great to have someone watching out for my interests, completely in the moment and focused exclusively on making sure nothing went wrong while I maneuvered my car out of the most distant of parking spaces and through the many miles of twisting, poorly regulated ‘lanes’ that make up hospital parking lots and onto the road way home.
Another place we could use chaperons? The financial end of healthcare could use more than a little reform. Having an objective set of eyes oversee the interaction between patient and insurance agency – or patient and the practice’s billing office – could provide a level of oversight that if nothing else, could introduce some level of civility and accountability into the whole situation – for all parties