The Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) is committed to advancing women’s health. Our work spans the delivery of clinical care to patients, the design and administration of research studies, and the training of the next generation of physicians. Across all of these areas, patient safety is a fundamental priority. For this reason, our work to advance women’s health also involves reflecting deeply on how patients experience their care with us. As we deliver this care to patients or design innovative clinical trials, we will always be mindful of our mission to create an environment where our patients not only are safe – but feel safe.
Our physicians, nurses, medical assistants and front-desk staff are all working together for you and your wellbeing. We are committed to continuously evaluating and improving our policies, practices and service to earn and maintain your trust. You are an important part of that ongoing evaluation and improvement, and as you’ll see below, we want your feedback on how we are doing.
On this page, you will find additional resources explaining how we operate and what to expect during your visit with us.
Our Chaperone Policies & Training
- Our Policies: Our chaperone policy is central to supporting and protecting our patients during sensitive examinations.
- A chaperone will be present for breast, pelvic, rectal, other intimate examinations and in certain other situations. Parents or guardians will be present when adolescents or children are examined.
- Your chaperone is there to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible, and to make sure that all your treatment is appropriate and safe.
- Your physician will explain the examination and what to expect before it starts. You will be told when the physical part of the examination is over and when it is appropriate for the chaperone to leave.
- You may ask for your chaperone to remain with you. If there is a need to resume the examination for any reason, the chaperone will be invited back into the room.
- The presence of a chaperone will be documented in your medical records.
- If you decline to have a chaperone, the healthcare professional will not be able to carry out the examination.
- In all of our Ob/Gyn exam rooms, you will find signage explaining the chaperone policy and that provides links to resources about what to expect during an Ob/Gyn exam. The Patient Safety Hotline number is also displayed.
- Chaperones are there for your safety, and they will never be at risk of losing their employment or other retaliation when they speak up to protect you.
- You can tell the chaperone or the medical professional that you want to stop the examination at any point.
- Our Training:
- All Ob/Gyn physicians, chaperones and other clinical staff in the department are required to complete and certify training on the chaperone policy annually.
- All our new physicians and other providers, and all Ob/Gyn chaperones, undergo this training as part of their orientation process.
Reviewing, Reinforcing, and Overseeing Our Policies
- Our policies and procedures: We regularly review our policies and procedures related to patient safety and work to enhance them whenever we identify areas for improvement. When necessary, our Ob/Gyn department convenes task forces to address issues of patient safety and enhancing our culture of safety.
- Overseeing our policies and practices: Our Quality and Safety Committee, which includes the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Quality Officer, reviews all reports to our Patient Safety Hotline that relate to patient safety.
Responding to Your Concerns
- Patient Experience Coordinator: In the Ob/Gyn department, our Patient Experience Coordinator serves as a critical contact between patients and our team to address and resolve patient complaints and to identify opportunities for improvement. From soliciting patient feedback via text message to assisting with education and training initiatives across the Ob/Gyn department, the Patient Experience Coordinator helps make sure we continue to maintain a patient-centered culture of excellence.
- Patient Safety Hotline: ColumbiaDoctors maintains a confidential Patient Safety Hotline for patient safety complaints. Any complaints concerning sexual misconduct specifically are automatically escalated to senior management for review.
- Compliance Hotline: Columbia also has a Compliance Hotline where staff and others can make confidential reports about any matter related to the University, including CUIMC. All staff members are encouraged to report any matter that causes concern without fear of retribution. Chaperones are also trained, as part of their annual training, to report any concerns to supervisors, practice managers or medical directors either by a standard form or confidentially via the Compliance Hotline. Calls to the Compliance Hotline about sensitive issues are immediately investigated.
- How we handle complaints: Any patient complaints, including complaints of inappropriate conduct, are thoroughly investigated and handled with the utmost care and attention. We maintain a centralized system, called the Patient Safety Zone, where we collect and track patient complaints about quality of care and service. All Columbia employees receive training to ensure that every patient complaint is reported into the system – whether these are raised in person, by email, or by patient calls to the Patient Safety Hotline. Every complaint is investigated by designated reviewers and supervised by the Quality and Patient Safety Office.
You are entitled to complete information so that you can be a partner in decisions about your healthcare. You can read about these, and your other rights, at the following links.
- Know your rights: Under federal and New York State law, you have certain rights and protections
- Understanding the Patients’ Bill of Rights: As a patient at Columbia Health, your rights are explained in this Patient Rights document
- Protecting your personal records: We are committed to ensuring patient privacy and protecting your health information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT (HIPAA)