I believe that if you are about to undergo major surgery that has life changing implications it should be part of the consent process that you have to speak to another patient. This will enable you to gain a full insight in to what is about to happen prior to surgery taking place.
If you are undergoing surgery to potentially save your life or that will have major ramifications on your life such as transplantation then the only way you can really get to know what it is going to be like is via another patient. To connect with a patient who has experienced something similar to you gives a completely different perspective and can often provide much needed support post op and during the recovery period.
From my experience as a patient with a degenerative condition, I know the vast differences that people with my condition experience with treatments and procedures. You would only get one person's insight that may not speak to the effects of a treatment or procedure on you. There is also the issue of patient confidentiality. If I did not want to speak to another patient for that reason, would I be denied a procedure because of non-consent?
I can think of lots of instances where this might help - and quite a few where it could be potentially make things tricky. For example, although I have had a fairly common 'major illness' my experience of it has been vastly different to that of the many friends with the disease I have made en route. If they had described their experiences to me beforehand, they might have given me a misleading idea of what to expect. Also - who gets to choose who the patient speaks to? There could be some bias.
I agree that patients should have the opportunity to deeply understand what will happen to them before, during and after surgery... and in language they understand. Speaking to another patient might make things worse - their medical history may have been completely different, or limited knowledge without the benefit of medical expertise might lead them to misrepresent the surgery or convince the patient they don't need it. I would rather see patient experiences captured as video interviews.
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