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Medical emergency

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Medical emergency

Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! No, this wasn’t the labour ward. This was me trying to calm myself down. As dentists, you’re faced with challenges every day, both clinical and non-clinical.

But I don’t think that anyone out there would dispute that one of the hardest and most frightening challenges has to be dealing with a medical emergency.

Working as an SHO in a hospital certainly means that the chances of one of these events happening are certainly increased, especially when you’re part of a surgical team. Thankfully in the hospital, there is always more senior and experienced help available with colleagues ready to drop what they’re doing to come to your aid.

Watching colleagues work in such high pressure situations while still maintaining their cool in these life and death situations (quite literally!) is very special indeed. But this help isn’t available within a dental practice, and as a senior member of the team, staff will be looking up to you for what to do. Here are some tips from my experiences which I hope will be of use to you.

  • Remain calm and breathe slowly and deeply. If you’re in a panic, this pandemonium will spread and won’t help anyone.
  • Be systematic. You’re trained in BLS for a reason, because you might have to administer it. The ABCDE acronym is taught and used for a reason – because it works. It’s important to go through all the steps even if it seems trivial and unnecessary to make sure you don’t miss anything.
  • Get familiar with your medical emergency kit. If you don’t know where your kit is, what’s in it and how to use it you’ll lose valuable time when every second counts.
  • Practise makes perfect. Practising scenarios as a team means that you know your response times and what role all the staff in the practice need to play.
  • Training. While most dentists are trained in basic life support, the immediate life support courses and qualifications are a very useful accompaniment.

All dentists always hope that they would never have to deal with this, but you never know where and when a medical emergency might strike. I hope that when it does, you’re prepared for it.

Hussein Hassanali

Dental Protection has more than 50 dento-legal advisers to support you if you receive a complaint.
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