Patient Safety in the Dental Office

Midwinter Clinic

Is your dental practice as safe as it could be? In this blog we’ll be discussing several ways dentists can enhance patient safety in the dental office. If you’d like to learn even more, visit Iridia at booth #36 at this years’ Midwinter clinic!

At last years’ Midwinter Clinic, we showcased our AEDs, promoted our education courses and supported Dr. Jamie Renwick, one of our physician consultants and instructors, on his presentation about the practical management of life threatening dental emergencies.

Dr. Renwick’s presentation was engaging and provided dentists with key information to enhance the safety of their practice. Dozens of dentists visited our booth afterwards and inquired about the purchase of an AED for their clinic and the specialized training courses we can provide. In response of the positive feedback and in anticipation of the Pacific Dental Conference, we wanted to share some of the key points from Dr. Renwick’s presentation to build awareness for both dentists and their patients.

As Dr. Renwick mentioned in his presentation, life threatening injuries aren’t common in the dental office, but they do happen.  With this in mind, below are some best practices to developing an effective response to medical emergencies in the dental office.

1. Know your patients

Knowing your patients’ medical histories will help you make better decisions in critical situations –update them at each visit.

2. Anxiety reduction

Anxiety is a major factor causing medical emergencies in the dental office – syncope, panic attacks, asthma, and angina can all be precipitated by anxiety.  Attempt to identify anxious patients and try to reduce the waiting times prior to any procedure.  For many patients, providing detailed explanations of procedures may reduce anxiety.

3. Prepare and Practice for Emergencies

All staff members should be trained in Basic Life Support (BLS) – this includes the use of an Automatic External Defibrillator – more on this later.  It’s always a good idea if staff takes BLS together; learning to respond to an emergency as a team is crucial to optimal patient outcomes. Consider developing formal emergency response policies and posting response process algorithms in visible areas –this will help keep response procedures fresh in everyone’s mind.  Lastly, don’t forget to rehearse and practice emergency response simulations with your entire staff at least every 2 years.

Life Support Education

4. Assemble a Resuscitation Kit

Having all essential drugs and equipment in one place will save time and keep you organized when you’re responding to an emergency situation – it will also help keep you calm.  Consider including items such as an Epinephrine auto-injector, Ventolin inhalers, and H1/H2 blockers.

5. Lifesaving Equipment

AEDs are everywhere these days and many dentists are opting to have one in their office for cardiac emergencies; many US states have mandated that dentists have an AED in their facility.  Similarly, the College of Dental Surgeons of BC proposed new changes to policy regulating the practice of minimal and moderate sedation for dentists in BC.  One of these proposed changes called for a mandatory installation of AEDs in dental facilities providing certain procedures. Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) affects all ages and for every minute that lapses before defibrillation, your patients’ survival rates will decrease by 10% – consider purchasing an AED for your office to give patients the best chance for survival.

Conclusion

As life expectancy increase, dentists are treating a growing number of medically compromised patients, increasing the likelihood of a medical emergency during treatment; what’s more, is that emergencies like SCA can happen to anyone at any time.  Enhancing the safety of your practice through improved policy, training, and equipment will ensure you and your staff respond to medical emergencies with the best versions of yourselves.

As a leading provider of AEDs, medical education, and medical equipment, we’re confident that taking the steps to enhance the safety of your practice is an investment that will pay returns to both your business and your patients.

For more information about AEDs, contact Julie Turley .