Secondhand smoke exposure (SHSe) is highly prevalent among children and has numerous adverse health effects. Consistent screening for SHSe is an essential first step to helping families break the toxic cycle of smoking.


With this quality improvement project, we evaluated a SHSe screening and cessation resource distribution protocol in a general pediatrics inpatient unit of a safety-net hospital. Our primary outcome measure was the percent of admissions screened for SHSe, with a goal of increasing our documented rate of SHSe screening from 0% to 70% within 6 months of implementation. Our secondary outcome measure was the percent of those who screened positive for SHSe who were offered smoking cessation resources. Process measures included tracking nurse confidence in screening and compliance with new workflow training. Balancing measures were nurse satisfaction and brevity of screening.


From May 1, 2019, to April 30, 2020, nurses screened 97.2% of the 394 patients admitted to the pediatric unit for SHSe. Of the patients screened, 15.7% were exposed to cigarettes or other tobacco products, 5.6% to e-cigarettes, and 6.5% to marijuana. Nurses documented offering “Quit Kits” with cessation materials to 45 caregivers (72.6% of positive screen results) and offering 33 referrals to the California Smokers' Helpline (53.2% of positive screen results).


In this project, we successfully implemented a screening protocol for SHSe to tobacco, e-cigarettes, and marijuana and a workflow for cessation resource distribution in an inpatient pediatric setting that far exceeded goals. Requiring minimal maintenance and using just a simple paper-based format, the workflow could be adopted at other institutions.

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