Next Year Hospital Won’t Hire Tobacco Users; Should New York Hospitals Follow? Will it Improve Patient Care and Satisfaction?

Yesterday I mentioned the blog post relating to hospital employees' uniforms being soiled with dangerous bacteria and pathogens. That post noted that employees wear their uniforms out of the hospital to do errands, get lunch, and on breaks-including smoking breaks. Now a Texas hospital system, Baylor Health Care, is refusing to hire any tobacco users for new positions beginning next year. And for those employees hired who already use such products, they will have to pay an insurance surcharge of $650 a year!

The Human Resource Vice President, Becky Hall, stated that "[w]e know tobacco leads to many diseases and illnesses. We've got to practice what we preach. If we want to be one of those leading health care providers, we've got to be role models for our patients." But I like this because it will also improve patient care and satisfaction.
Why?

Well, isn't it frustrating when the smell of fresh cigarettes unbearably radiates from a health care worker-someone you are paying for to take care of you? What about when you're laying in a hospital bed waiting for your assigned nurse because you need her or him, but she or he happens to be taking another cigarette break? Particularly now that we know when the nurse returns, she or he will have even more dangerous pathogens after venturing outside the hospital.

I think this initiative is a good one and should be more seriously looked at in New York. While it may catch some flak, and has the potential for lawsuits relating to equal rights, substantive due process, or other similar employment challenges-which will inevitably arise (at least the threat of them) and may cost hospitals extra resources to defeat these challenges-this plan should overall help hospital care, promote a better image, and overall help lower hospital costs. That is because insuring employees who smoke could cost an additional $4,000 more a year!

What do you think? Should New York hospitals adopt this too? I'd love to hear what you think. I welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.
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