Be prepared for your next medical emergency

Medical emergencies are uncommon, but when they occur, it’s imperative that you are prepared. Right now, you are likely relying on the school clinic emergency kit and training protocol. This might be a good time to think about what you’ve learned and what you have available, and then use this article to think about what it will be like once you’re in practice.

Key findings from the “ADA 2018 CDP Survey on Preparedness for Medical Emergencies in the Dental Practice” revealed that the top three medical emergencies occurring in dental practices during the 12 months prior to the survey were not specific to the dental setting or treatment. Those incidents were syncope (39.77 percent), epinephrine reaction (37.43 percent) and postural hypotension (33.92 percent).

The components of a sound medical emergency plan for the dental office should include:

  • Medical emergency prevention
  • Development of an action plan
  • Recognizing a patient’s distress and management of medical emergencies
  • Emergency drugs and equipment

All dentists should be familiar with the prevention, diagnosis and management of common emergencies. Appropriate training should also be provided to staff so that each person knows what to do and can act promptly. Since emergencies do not occur often, regular review of response procedures is necessary to keep skills intact. At a minimum, classes or seminars in emergency response should be conducted annually, more often if possible. Such training is often available through local fire and safety departments, the American Red Cross, many community colleges and commercial training facilities.

In addition to training, every office should have easy access to a medical emergency kit. The kit should contain the following drugs and ingestibles:

  • Epinephrine
  • Naloxone
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Nitroglycerin
  • A bronchodilator such as albuterol
  • Aspirin
  • Aromatic ammonia
  • A glucose source such as orange juice or a candy bar

Other recommended components in the emergency kit include:

  • Portable oxygen cylinder with regulator
  • Supplemental oxygen delivery devices
  • Nasal cannula
  • Non-rebreathing mask with oxygen reservoir
  • Nasal hood
  • Bag-valve-mask device with oxygen reservoir
  • Oropharyngeal airways
  • Magill forceps
  • Automated external defibrillator
  • Stethoscope
  • Sphygmomanometer with adult small, medium and large cuff sizes

Of course, it’s impossible to foresee every eventuality. Proper preparation will ensure that you and your colleagues will respond to the most common emergencies in a calm and professional manner, ensuring the safety of your patients and reducing the risk of liability to your dental practice.

The ADA Center for Professional Success has a free webinar designed to help you assemble an emergency kit. This includes links to a variety of additional resources to help you prepare for emergencies.

~ADA Center for Professional Success

This content is sponsored and does not necessarily reflect the views of ASDA

ADA Center for Professional Success

The ADA Center for Professional Success provides practice management content and decision support tools with the goal of helping members practice successfully, learn conveniently and live well. Visit the Center at Success.ADA.org.

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