The Patient Who Continues to Smoke On-Treatment: An Ethical Dilemma
Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, 1-4, DOI:10.1177/0194599817752634, Forthcoming
Posted: 18 Jan 2018
Date Written: 2018
A 62-year-old man with an extensive smoking history is diagnosed with oral cavity squamous cell carcinoma. After consultation, he is scheduled for radical resection with free flap reconstruction. The patient continues to smoke and is strongly advised to quit. When he returns for follow-up prior to his scheduled operation, the patient reluctantly discloses to his care team that he has not quit smoking. The surgeon considers withholding the operation until the patient has been tobacco-free for 4 weeks, consistent with evidence showing a significant decrease in surgical complications. Would it be ethically defensible to do so?
Keywords: medical ethics
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation