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Meaning of "Do you smoke?" & confidentiality of answering

When doctors ask, "Do you smoke?" what exactly are they asking, and is the answer confidential?

Do doctors need to know about the active ingredients a patient ingests (nicotine, THC, etc.)?

Or are they concerned with the effects of inhaling smoke from combustion?

Would this mean a patient who vaporizes tobacco/cannabis/etc. does not necessarily need to disclose the information?

Furthermore, is this information shared with insurance companies or anyone else?
3 Responses
4851940 tn?1515694593
When a doctor asks the question "Do you smoke?" he is trying to establish if you  smoke cigarettes, any tobacco or other products that you light and inhale that have the potential to cause damage to your respiratory tract and lungs.

The lungs of a smoker will sound different to that of a non smoker.

Having said that a person who does not actually smoke himself will have passively smoked 1 cigarette to every 7 cigarettes that are being smoked by other people, that he is exposed to.  In other words, even if you do not smoke, but are in a very smoky room, you will have inhaled the smoke with the potential of causing harm to your respiratory tract and lungs.  

If you are not sure what the doctor means with regard to any question, do ask him to clarify what he means.  

All doctors records are confidential.  You would normally sign a form to allow an insurance company to have access to any medical records and you can also specify which time period that you would allow any information to be disclosed.
144586 tn?1284666164
The medical records in the United States are not "confidential" in point of fact. The information is electronically stored in Federal archives. If you get into an accident or have a workman's comp case, or apply for many jobs you must permit access to all your records.

Having worked in many hospitals I can assure you that "confidentially" of medical records is a myth. We would routinely permit any police officer complete access to all records without permission. Legal or not. I'm not saying this is the case in every hospital, though.

If you won't sign the waiver you won't get the workman's comp.

Never ever admit you use cannabis to a physician, or illegal drugs, and be careful what you say about alcohol use.

You don't have to tell the physician everything about your medical history. There is no legal reason to do so. It is usually helpful to do so, but not always.

The doctor asks the question because it has become a federal mandate to do so.under Obamacare protocols.

It has become a standard part of the "patient history".

The lungs of a young light smoker will not sound any different from that of a normal non-smoker. This is not true for long-term smokers, of course.
144586 tn?1284666164
Some years ago an official in the New York City 911 system hired the Scientologists to train dispatchers.. I kid you not!. They were provided complete access to all reports of rapes, drug overdoses and suicides and this data was transferred to the "Church" for evaluation. What happened is that the Scientologists had a recruiter contact all those who had a suicide attempt or drug use.  Or rape. This went on for years because an official in EMS was a dedicated Scientologist.
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