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New ADA guide prepares dental teams for medical emergencies

January 08, 2019

By David Burger

ADA Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office collage of inside pages 

With American Heart Month coming in February, the ADA has published the new “Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office,” a 37-page guide coupled with a video training program.

The product is currently available for sale via the ADA Catalog.

The guide, according to author Dr. Larry J. Sangrik, an Ohio clinician, is meant to help dentists and dental teams prepare for potential medical emergencies in the dental practice and to  give them a helpful resource for managing many of the potential medical emergencies that may occur.

Whether a patient has a seizure, an allergic reaction or another instance that requires immediate care, this manual is intended to be a dentist’s go-to staff training guide, he said.

Dr. Larry J. Sangrik
Dr. Sangrik

The key, Dr. Sangrik said in an ADA News interview, is that every member of the dental team should be involved in the care of any patient who experiences an emergency in the office. “We as a profession should expect more,” he said.

The genesis of the guide was a December 2017 white paper that Dr. Sangrik wrote for the American Association of Dental Boards. That paper recapped the results of two previously unpublished surveys, one of which was designed to assess the dental community’s overall awareness of how to respond in the event that a patient experiences a medical emergency during dental treatment.

According to  Dr. Sangrik, those surveys revealed that:

• Patients overwhelmingly believe their personal dentist and the members of the team are  already highly and comprehensively prepared to manage a medical emergency.

• The public has higher expectations regarding dental personnel’s medical emergency preparedness  than state dental boards currently require.

• Many dentists underestimate the potential for  a medical event to occur in their office.

Risk factors for medical emergencies during dental care indicate that they are increasing in frequency, intensity and diversity, Dr. Sangrik said. The factors include an aging population, patients with more complex medical histories, more sophisticated and invasive dentistry and increased use of implants and sedation, he said.

The guide addresses these issues by including:

•  A list of recommended equipment and supplies for a dental emergency kit.

• A detailed duty sheet that outlines each team member’s  tasks during a medical emergency.

• Step-by-step instructions to aid in identifying and managing common medical emergencies, such as:

  • Fainting.
  • Asthma attacks.
  • Allergic reactions.
  • Seizures.
  • Diabetic events.
  • High and low blood pressure.
  • Strokes.
  • Cardiac arrest.

This publication also includes a continuing education test worth three credits and four videos that feature Dr. Sangrik discussing the subject. The videos are “It Won’t Happen Here,” “My Role in a Crisis,” “Using Medical Equipment” and “Crisis in the Clinic.”

Save 15 percent on all ADA Catalog products by using the promo code 19106 by March 29. To order, visit ADAcatalog.org or call 1-800-947-4746.

The ADA website has a number of other resources available that help dentists prepare for medical emergencies at ADA.org/medicalemergencies. It also includes information from a 2018 survey on preparedness for medical emergencies in the dental practice that was conducted by the ADA Council on Dental Practice at ADA.org/emergencymedicalsurvey.

ADA Member Advantage has endorsed select HealthFirst Practice readiness solutions, including emergency medical kits. ADA members can receive a discount on selected products by entering "ADAMEMBER" in the discount code field at checkout at healthfirst.com/ADA.