Since April 1, 2020, the occupational and professional boards in New Jersey have disciplined more than 20 licensees for sexual misconduct in a professional setting. As a part of sweeping reform, the Attorney General issued Administrative Executive Directive 2021-3 in April 2021, cracking down on sexual misconduct by professionals licensed by the 51 boards and committees operating under the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Multiple new policies and improvements in existing processes were added to help prevent sexual misconduct from occurring and to promote accountability among licensees, ensuring that victims who come forward to report incidents of sexual misconduct receive the support they deserve. One such policy is The Presence of Chaperones: New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) 13:35-6.23.
The Presence of Chaperones: New Jersey Administrative Code (NJAC) 13:35-6.23
Allegations of sexual misconduct or boundary violations/crossings put New Jersey physicians and other licensed healthcare professionals at legal risk. These allegations can have disastrous reputational consequences – even if the allegations are unfounded.
Implementing a chaperone policy and having a chaperone present can help prevent a patient from misinterpreting/misunderstanding a provider’s behavior or actions during exams. Misinterpretations and misunderstandings can lead to allegations of sexual misconduct against the practitioner.
The New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners has a regulation on the Presence of Chaperones which states:
- In an office setting, a doctor is required to provide notice to the patient that he/she has a right to a chaperone present whenever a breast and pelvic examination of females or during genitalia and rectal examinations of both male and female patients.
- The notice required shall either be provided in written form to the patient or by conspicuously posting a notice in a manner in which patients or any other person who is to be examined are made aware of their right to request a chaperone and to decline care if a chaperone acceptable to the patient is not
- If the proposed chaperone is not acceptable to the patient, the patient may refuse and the doctor is not obligated to provide further care.
- If the doctor desires to have a chaperone present and the patient refuses, the doctor is not obligated to provide further treatment.
- If care is not provided, the doctor, consistent with the principles of Informed Consent, must discuss with the patient the risks of not receiving further care.
Support for Conventus Members
Conventus members can access the full Spotlight on BME Regulations article with detailed information and recommendations on how to protect your patients, staff, and practice from allegations of abuse or misconduct, and to help patients make an informed choice about their examinations and consultations. In addition, Conventus members can visit the Conventus Knowledge Center for a Sample Chaperone Office Policy and Chaperone Poster for Exam Rooms.
As always, Conventus members can call the Practice Resource Department at (877) 444-0484, ext. 7466 to speak with a member of our team for assistance with understanding or questions regarding your requirements under these regulations.