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Letters: Emergency referrals

February 19, 2018

People have all types of pain, trauma, infection, psychological and social emergencies and they go to hospital emergency facilities and/or mini health clinics to seek advice and care.

Dental pain, trauma, infection: there is usually no help at these locations. Pain medication (usually narcotics) and antibiotic drugs are often prescribed.

How about a dentist on staff or on call, or a method to get intra-oral photographs that can be sent to a dentist for consultation and/or follow-up exam and treatment? This could be a private dentist that can view the photograph digitally received or a government-type clinic.

Mark Haselkorn, D.D.S.
Florence, Massachusetts

Editor's note from Dr. Tim Fagan, chair of the Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention: The author is absolutely correct: Many people access a hospital emergency department with dental pain.

Hospital emergency departments are typically ill-equipped to handle these issues, and for that reason, we are seeing significant awareness of our Action for Dental Health initiative regarding emergency department referral.

We've collected many types of successful models over the past few years, which are detailed on ADA.org so members can utilize those models in their communities.

Additionally, we are now collaborating with the American College of Emergency Physicians to develop local dental office partnerships with support from community stakeholders.

This helps get the patient to the right place for the appropriate care at the right time.