Quality & Regulatory Affairs  |   May 2015
Preoperative Smoking Abstinence: A New Opportunity for Physician Anesthesiologists and Their Patients
Article Information
Quality Improvement / Quality & Regulatory Affairs
Quality & Regulatory Affairs   |   May 2015
Preoperative Smoking Abstinence: A New Opportunity for Physician Anesthesiologists and Their Patients
ASA Monitor 05 2015, Vol.79, 46-47.
ASA Monitor 05 2015, Vol.79, 46-47.
David O. Warner, M.D. is Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

  David O. Warner, M.D. is Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

David P. Martin, M.D., Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

  David P. Martin, M.D., Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Physician anesthesiologists witness the devastating consequences of cigarette smoking on a daily basis – both in the long-term toll exacted by smoking-related diseases, and in the increased risks for acute perioperative complications such as bronchospasm and wound infections. Many may feel there is little we can do – but in fact, physician anesthesiologists can play an important role in helping patients deal with their smoking.1  Evidence shows that every time a physician tells a patient to stop smoking, it increases the chance they will ultimately quit, and clinical practice guidelines recommend that smoking status be addressed explicitly in every visit a patient has with a physician. The time of surgery is an especially “teachable moment” that increases the chances that smokers will quit.2  The potential payoff is huge – smoking abstinence significantly reduces the risk for perioperative complications.3  The duration of abstinence for maximum benefit likely depends on the complication, but even brief abstinence improves cardiorespiratory fitness – without, as we now know, increasing the risk for respiratory or other complications, as previously taught.4  And if smokers take advantage of the opportunity to quit for good, they will literally gain extra years of life – so that our impact can extend far beyond the immediate perioperative period.
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