Tuesday, February 17, 2015 - 11:11
Cancer patient advocates tested at Erasmus hospital
Erasmus MC in Rotterdam will soon be implementing volunteers to assist cancer patients in discussions with doctors. These so-called co-patients will be part of the discussions. They listen without becoming overwhelmed with emotion and represent the patient's interest, AD reports The co-patients were tested in five hospitals in the Netherlands in 2011, including Erasmus MC. All involved parties seemed satisfied. "When you hear that you have cancer, you're upset. Whether you're young or old, window cleaner or self a doctor: 80 percent of the contents of a bad news discussion is lost, no matter how well the doctor communicates", Nico Mussert said to the newspaper. Mussert invented the co-patient along with Etienne Tiessen and started the foundation ZoBeter. Both of them have a sick spouse. "Co-patients do not respond emotionally. They are alert, able to listen well and articulate questions." Mussert said. According to him, several hospitals are interested in co-patients, but the first step will be taken in March in Rotterdam. Erasmus MC will use co-patients in the Gastroenterology-Liver Disease department and the department for breast cancer patients. The search for suitable volunteers has begun. Volunteers do not have to be medically trained, but must have a lot of experience, either by having suffered from cancer themselves or know the impact of it from their immediate environment. Mussert emphasized that the volunteers are not replacing the family. "Family is incredibly important for emotional support. But relatives can just as easily be overwhelmed by emotion."