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Original Investigation
March 2014

Smoking Status and Health Care Costs in the Perioperative Period: A Population-Based Study

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Anesthesiology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • 2Department of Health Sciences Research, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
JAMA Surg. 2014;149(3):259-266. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2013.5009

Importance  Cigarette smoking adds an estimated $100 billion in annual incremental direct health care costs nationwide. Cigarette smoking increases complication risk in surgical patients, but the potential effects of smoking status on perioperative health care costs are unclear.

Objective  To test the hypothesis that current and former smoking at the time of admission for inpatient surgery, compared with never smoking, are independently associated with higher incremental health care costs for the surgical episode and the first year after hospital discharge.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This population-based, propensity-matched cohort study, with cohort membership based on smoking status (current smokers, former smokers, and never smokers) was performed at Mayo Clinic in Rochester (a tertiary care center) and included patients at least 18 years old who lived in Olmsted County, Minnesota, for at least 1 year before and after the index surgery.

Exposure  Undergoing an inpatient surgical procedure at Mayo Clinic hospitals between April 1, 2008, and December 31, 2009.

Main Outcomes and Measures  Total costs during the index surgical episode and 1 year after hospital discharge, with the latter standardized as costs per month. Costs were measured using the Olmsted County Healthcare Expenditure and Utilization Database, a claims-based database including information on medical resource use, associated charges, and estimated economic costs for patients receiving care at the 2 medical groups (Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center) that provide most medical services within Olmsted County, Minnesota.

Results  Propensity matching resulted in 678 matched pairs in the current vs never smoker grouping and 945 pairs in the former vs never smoker grouping. Compared with never smokers, adjusted costs for the index hospitalization did not differ significantly for current or former smokers. However, the adjusted costs in the year after hospitalization were significantly higher for current and former smokers based on regression analysis (predicted monthly difference of $400 [95% CI, $131-$669] and $273 [95% CI, $56-$490] for current and former smokers, respectively).

Conclusions and Relevance  Compared with never smokers, health care costs during the first year after hospital discharge for an inpatient surgical procedure are higher in both former and current smokers, although the cost of the index hospitalization is not affected by smoking status.