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Healthcare Providers and E-cigarettes
Healthcare Professionals' Duty to Inform
There currently is enough evidence for a healthcare provider to have an informed conversation with patients regarding the use of e-cigarettes. This emergent technology is still too new for there to be many scientific studies conducted on it. However, as the American Heart Association (AHA) (2014) points out, it needs to be treated like any other tobacco produce until proven otherwise. In other words, all known tobacco products are harmful to users, and this product must be assumed as harmful until evidence shows that it is not. Healthcare professionals are absolutely allowed to inform their patients of this fact and encourage them to abstain from the use of e-cigarettes until more research can be done. They do not have to keep patients in the dark about the ambiguity surrounding e-cigarette research and the potential threats involved.
When in Doubt, Stick to the Facts
Johnson and Pennington (2014) offer a more clear opinion against e-cigarette usage, saying that it is little better than regular smoking. Still, there is an important fact in here which is that, as far as experts can tell, e-cigarettes are technically healthier than methods of burning tobacco such as cigarettes, cigars, and pipe. Both Johnson and Pennigton (2014) and the AHA (2015) seem to agree that more research is necessary before anything definitive can be said, but that people are better off playing it safe and not consuming tobacco at all.
It is the right, and even the obligation, of healthcare staff to keep their patients informed about potential health risks. There is no reason a healthcare provider cannot simply explain that the risks of e-cigarettes are not entirely understood, but considering every other tobacco product on the market, there is still a possibility that they have a negative health effect. Healthcare workers are not supposed to keep patients in the dark, but are supposed to help educate them to make informed health care choices for themselves.
© 2017 Vince