The next step should be to explain the examination process and the components of a basic sexual health screening available at your clinic/surgery/unit. Consent must be obtained before undertaking any form of intimate examination. This is achieved by explaining in full the procedure and the rationale for the investigations that may be carried out. This also allows the person time to raise any issues, worries or doubts that they may have. This is another time when cultural competence must be assessed: should a worker of the opposite gender to you undertake the examination?
As a practitioner you must be cognisant of this and offer a worker of the person's choice. Privacy and dignity must be ensured throughout the entire examination procedure. You must have explained what is going to happen and why prior to commencing. Many people feel vulnerable being undressed, and you should therefore keep the time they are undressed to an absolute minimum, providing where appropriate a blanket or disposable sheet to cover any exposed area before and during the examination (Randall et al., 1999; Torrance et al., 1999; Bignell, 1999).
It is strongly recommended now that all examinations regardless of the gender of the client/worker should be conducted in the presence of a chaper-one. In some clinical areas this may be a friend or another healthcare worker. In some centres clients are asked whether they would like a chaperone present. At all times be guided by your local policies and the needs of your client and the staff (Clutterbuck, 2004).
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