The Charlotte Observer published an article last month discussing why in some cases doctors are refusing to operate on patients who smoke. In recent years, research has shown that smoking inhibits the healing of wounds because it decreases blood flow. Studies have shown that smokers who have joint replacements have an 80 percent higher chance of needing repeat surgery than non-smokers. Surgeons are asking patients to quit smoking before performing these surgeries, and if they refuse to quit then surgeons are refusing to perform the operation. Overall, operating on smokers in some cases puts the situation at high risk with the potential that there may be expensive complications from the surgery which could “hurt the bottom line for physicians.” According to the article, the refusal to operate until a patient is able to quit smoking is similar to refusing to operate on a patient who is overweight or has diabetes until they get those particular issues sorted out through weight loss or glucose control.
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