New Zealand - a third of patients seeking treatment in the ED were smokers..

August 24, 2010 - A third of all patients seeking treatment at hospital emergency departments (ED=ER=emergency room) are smokers -- a much higher rate than the rest of the population.

It's interesting to note just a few days ago we completed a news brief entitled: Quebec, Canada - one-third of hospital beds occupied by smokers..

The study, by emergency registrar Abigail Lynch and emergency physician Paul Quigley, looked at over 500 patients at Wellington Hospital's emergency department over six days in August last year.

PAPER: ExHALED Study: Prevalence of smoking and harm levels in an emergency department cohort, Abigail Lynch, Paul Quigley, Emergency Medicine Australasia 22(4): 287-205, August 2010, ABSTRACT..

It found 33.1 percent of patients seeking treatment were smokers, compared with 20.7 percent of the New Zealand population. Dr Lynch said 74.9 percent of the smokers surveyed said they wanted to quit. Of those, 76.3 percent took a quit pack and showed an interest in receiving emergency department-based quitting advice.

Recent studies have shown that patients are more likely to quit smoking with counselling from doctors, especially those who use emergency departments for most or all of their routine health care.

"Seventy-two patients were not registered with a GP and a significant proportion of these patients smoke and would like to quit," Dr Lynch said. "If smoking is not addressed with these patients during their ED visit, it might not be addressed at all."

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand, with about 5000 deaths each year attributable to direct or second-hand smoking.

Reference: Third of ED patients smokers - study, New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), Otago Daily Times, 8/23/2010.

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