Should hospitals do more to accommodate patients who smoke?
Hospitals across Canada have smoke-free policies for their buildings and grounds to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke for employees, patients and visitors near entrances and in parking lots.
In the study, investigators interviewed 186 patients and health-care professionals at Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre and the University of Alberta Hospital in Edmonton between December 2009 to May 2009. Both sites introduced smoke-free policies three years before the study began.
Patients and staff identified safety issues related to leaving hospital wards to smoke, such as:
- Staff being unaware of a patient's whereabouts.
- Patients feeling unsafe going out to smoke alone.
- Weather issues that cause equipment to malfunction.
Dr. Annette Schultz, one of the study's co-authors, suggested that hospital staff could be more proactive about offering a variety of nicotine-replacement therapy products such as the patch and gum.
In a commentary to the journal study, Sharon Lawn wrote that staff should not only set a positive example by abstaining from smoking but they should acknowledge that smoking is an addiction. They need the knowledge and skills to support patients with smoking cessation and tobacco practice, she added.
What can hospitals do to accommodate patients who smoke? Should they make smoking areas outside safer, provide nicotine alternatives or not accommodate the habit at all? Share your comments below.
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)
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