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Prevalence of emergency events in British dental practice and emergency management skills of British dentists

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Nick Girdler


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Medical emergencies in dental practice are generally perceived as being rare but when an emergency does occur it can be life-threatening. The ability of the dentist to initiate primary management is the key to minimising morbidity and mortality. Accurate data on the prevalence of emergency events, required so that dentists can adequately prepare to deal with emergency situations, is sparse and obsolete. This study aimed to determine the current prevalence of medical emergencies and the perceived emergency management skills of dentists. A questionnaire, distributed to 887 dentists working in general dental practice across five counties of Northern England, produced a response rate of 34%. The most frequently reported emergency was vasovagal syncope (1.9 cases, per dentist per year), followed by hypoglycaemia (0.17), angina (0.17), epileptic fit (0.13), choking (0.09), asthma (0.06), hypertensive crisis (0.023) and anaphylaxis (0.013). Myocardial infarction and cardiac arrest were extremely rare with an incidence of 0.003 and 0.002 cases per dentist per year, respectively. The total prevalence of all emergency events (excluding syncope) was 0.7 cases per dentist per year. Only 20.8% of dentists felt competent to diagnose the cause of a collapse in the dental surgery. However the majority believed that they would be able to undertake initial treatment of most common emergencies. Despite this more than 50% felt unable to manage a myocardial infarction or anaphylaxis, and 49.7% did not know how to insert an oral airway or undertake an intravenous injection. Future postgraduate training in emergency care for dentists needs to be more accurately targeted to the known prevalence of emergencies and deficiencies in dentists' emergency skills. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Girdler NM, Smith DG

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Resuscitation

Year: 1999

Volume: 41

Issue: 2

Pages: 159-167

Print publication date: 01/07/1999

ISSN (print): 0300-9572

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1570

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/S0300-9572(99)00054-4

PubMed id: 10488938


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