Should Doctors Have the Right To Refuse Surgery On Patients who smoke and will continue to do so after surgery.

Essay by TonyWHigh School, 12th gradeA-, June 2003

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Human Awareness Essay

Anthony Wignall


Should doctors have the right to refuse to refuse surgery on patients who smoke and will continue to do so? There are many arguments that support each side of this issue. Smoking is an extremely unhealthy habit. If continued over many years of a person's life it can lead to many undesirable effects, such as lung cancer. The surgery smokers may require is very expensive, but in most cases its results are potentially life-saving. Lung cancer is poised to take over breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer death in Victorian women.

24% of the population (One in four adults) smoked in 2001. 22% of these were regular daily smokers. Statistics gathered by the ABS show that more males than females were current smokers (28%, 21% respectively). For males and females the popularity of smoking was higher in younger age groups than in older groups.

The graph shows the popularity of smoking in different age groups.

(Taken from the ABS web page on Australian health statistics,

Smokers experience more difficulties during surgery. eg reaction to anesthetic may be longer. Costs of hospitalization are very expensive; an example is the intensive care unit at RAH costing $1500 a day.

Biology Concepts

Smoking cause extra mucus to be produced on the lining of the windpipe and bronchial tubes. The cilia (small hairs in trachea) stop moving. One cigarette stops the cilia for one hour, meaning the mucus collects in the bronchial tubes leading to an infection and coughing. Coughing damages the cell walls of the air sacs decreasing the surface area for efficient gaseous exchange. This is called emphysema.

Studies carried out over the last forty years, by bodies such as the Royal College of Physicians in Britain, have shown that lung cancer is...