Medical Emergencies

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Prevention is the most important phase of treating medical emergencies, despite all the efforts of prevention emergencies will still occur. An emergency is a medical condition that requires immediate treatment. Emergencies do occur in the dental offices. A survey of 4,000dentists conducted by Fast and others revealed an incidence of 7.5 emergencies per dentist over a 10 year period. Here are three steps to prevent medical emergencies in the dental office: Medical History, Patient Evaluation, and Staff Training and Preparation. A patient’s medical history is very important in the office. The medical history questionnaire given to all patients on their first visit is helpful in preventing emergencies in the office. It list some questions such as; Is the patient under the care of a physician?, Is the patient pregnant?, and so on. There is also another helpful tip for the medical history evaluation and it is called the Medical History Algorithm. I find it very neat to learn this. The Medical History Algorithm is really basic it gives the word SAMPLE an acronym. The meaning of the word SAMPLE is S-symptoms, A- allergies, M- medication, P- Previous History, L- last incident, and E- events leading to the problem. Patient evaluation is very simple. We as dental assistants should automatically know to record vitals before the dentist completes the dental exam and as they are leaving the office take a visual inspection of the patient. Staff training and preparation is very important in the office. Staff must have the knowledge to identify and correctly manage each emergency. They should also have easy access to emergency equipment and drugs and have coordination of office personnel. The basic principle of managing all medical emergencies is BLS (Basic Life Support) and make sure that the staff remember the ABC’s. Most importantly we should document everything that goes on in an emergency in the dental office.

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