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Can Dr. refuse to treat a smoker


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When my mom had her surgery 2.5 years ago, the surgeon smelled cigaretts on her when she went under the anesthesia.

He told my mother and my uncle that he does not treat current smokers. He was assured that she would never smoke another cigarette again.

Well now we have to go see him again next Wed and I am remebering these comments he made.

Does he have the right to refuse treatment when he finds out she has been smoking the whole time?

I am trying to get myself prepared for this topic with him and I am jsut not sure if its typical for Dr.'s to make these statements and if they have the right to follow through and not perform the surgey.

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My surgeon said he refused to operate on patients who smoke as he had too much trouble with lung surgery patients who smoked getting pneumonia after lung surgery. He said you had to have quit at least two weeks prior to surgery. That was really hard considering the stress you are under after they tell you that they suspect lung cancer. This was a thoractic surgeon. Prayers for your mother!


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No health care provider is required to do anything that they believe is not in the patient's best interest. Once they have accepted a patient into their care, however, they are obligated to provide the necessary care or refer the person to a provider who will. Flatly stating he won't do the surgery is harsh, in my opinion. I suspect he thought it would help her quit. But not everyone responds to this type of tactic positively.

If she is not comfortable with his approach, seek out another surgeon. Stopping smoking before surgery does improve outcomes, so she must try to quit. There are many helpful techniques she can try, and drugs that are very useful, too. So she is not on her own.

Best wishes to you all, Teresa

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I have a friend who smokes, she needs a hernia operation. The dr. refuses to do it until she stops smoking. She is really upset with him. But he is only doing this for her own good because she has had problems before. The last time she had surgery she had to be put on a ventilator. She was on it for several days at 100%. She almost did not pull through.

Best Wishes,


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So we went to the Surgeon yesterday and he is doing the surgery on October 24.

He said "Its an easy one." He said there will be 3 small incisions, it will not be very invasive, nothing like removing the pancoast one.

I guess its very small and non aggressive, right on the tip of her upper lobe so he said it should not affect any lung function, although he can of course never guarntee that.

He ordered a bunch of tests that she has to have prior to the surgery and as long as they are all OK it will be removed on the 24th.

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thanks fpor update and glad he is doing this to help you out, I understand that original fear and am glad to hear it is out of the way. Sending prayers for everyone

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