Health Care Costs Higher for Former, Current Smokers in Year After Surgery

Health care costs in the first year after an inpatient surgical procedure are higher for former and current smokers compared with patients who never smoked, according to a study by David O. Warner, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., and colleagues.

Cigarette smoking increases the risk of complications in surgical patients, according to the study background.

The study involved patients who underwent surgery at Mayo Clinic hospitals between April 2008 and December 2009. The analysis included 678 pairs of participants in comparisons of current and never smokers; 665 pairs in comparisons of current and former smokers; and 945 pairs in comparisons of former and never smokers.

Study findings show that costs for the initial surgical hospitalization did not differ between people who never smoked and current or former smokers. However, costs in the year after the hospitalization were an estimated $400 higher for current smokers and an estimated $273 higher for former smokers, respectively.

“These excess costs add an estimated $17 billion annually to direct medical costs in the United States,” the study concludes.

(JAMA Surgery. Published online January 1, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2013.5009.