Male doctors would be forced to use chaperones during examination of women patients, if proposed rules to be put through.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is considering the new policy, which stated for stricter rules to be applied to curb the increasing number of sexual misconduct allegations and lawsuits.

The proposed rules were brought to light, following an incident of a Royal Perth Hospital doctor who had to face the court for charges of sexually assaulting a female patient.

According to police, the doctor had indecently assaulted the woman during treatment and a hospital examination.

Peter Maguire, chair of RACGP said a policy change dealing with relations between male doctors and female patients was inevitable.

At the moment, we don't have a specific policy for doctors but I think that will have to change, he said.

It has been on our agenda, certainly. Doctors are more nervous about this issue than they used to be. They are more worried about medico-legal risks because we live in a litigation-conscious society.

More than half of male doctors, knew a colleague who had been accused of sexual misconduct, revealed a survey by a medical profession magazine, called Medical Forum.

The survey reported very few of the doctors were found guilty.

Steve Hambleton, vice-president of the Australian Medical Association opposed against mandatory requirement for chaperones saying it would cause a strain on small medical practices, especially ones with only one doctor.

GPs were already happy to have female patients coming in with their own chaperone such as a spouse, to accompany them during examinations, said Dr Hambleton but he said making the rule mandatory could be embarrassing for some women, especially young women during intimate examinations such as Pap smear test.

It is already embarrassing enough for people to have intimate examinations without having a third party that they don't even know there, he said.

The new guidelines being considered by the Australian Medical Association also would advised doctors to communicate more openly with their patients,

Michelle Kosky, chief executive of the Health Consumers Council who worked on the guidelines mentioned communication is vital in order for patients to not feel demeaned or frightened during an examination.

There needs to be an atmosphere of openness, said Ms Kosky.

Doctors need to explain what is going to happen during examination and why it's going to happen.

However, the use of chaperone can be a cultural problem for some women, said Ms Kosky.

Patients in rural areas where there is shortage of doctors, are more concerned on being able to see a doctor, let alone having a chaperone, said Annete Dobson, health lecturer of the University of Queensland.

The Medical Board of Queensland received 14 complaints of inappropriate medical examinations, eight complaints of inappropriate relationships and conducted 33 investigations into sexual misconduct during 2007 to 2008.