Emergency Medicine

Medical emergencies by their very nature can occur atany time, without warning and not necessarily in theclinical environment. It is therefore essential to be able torecognise the nature of an emergency as soon as it occursand to have the knowledge, proficiency and confidenceto be able to undertake the appropriate remedial action.


Management considerations

Therapists and hygienists treat patients of all ages andit is inevitable that some of these patients will havesignificant medical conditions and take medication, bothof which may necessitate a modification to dental treatment.In addition, many patients will experience anxietyassociated with their treatment. It is to be expected thatacute medical conditions will occur in a dental practice,albeit rarely. It is worth remembering that friends or familywho often accompany patients, other visitors to thepractice and staff may become unwell and require urgentattention. Medical emergencies can therefore occur anywhereon the premises, not just in the surgery. It is essentialthat all dental healthcare workers should have theknowledge and skills to recognise and provide appropriateimmediate medical care for emergencies that mightpresent in dental practice. In some instances, this willrequire the provision of life-saving measures prior to thearrival of specialist help.

It is the professional responsibility of hygienists andtherapists to ensure that:

  • They know the location of, and have easy and promptaccess to, all emergency equipment and drugs.
  • The equipment and drugs conform to contemporaneousstandards recommended by respected bodies.
  • All equipment is well maintained and all drugs arechecked regularly and replaced prior to their expirydate.
  • They are trained regularly in the use of the above.
  • Regular ‘in-practice’ simulation of the managementof medical problems including the preparation andadministration of emergency drugs. This is in additionto training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

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