“Oops, I forgot my role in an emergency!”

Sept. 1, 2012
“Oops, I forgot my role in an emergency!” This statement would send chills down the spine of almost any dentist.

How does your team stay current with emergency procedures?

By JoAn Majors

“Oops, I forgot my role in an emergency!” This statement would send chills down the spine of almost any dentist. Yet, emergency medicine and procedures in the dental practice are not something typically scheduled for a role-play team meeting.

So it makes me wonder how dental teams stay current or rehearse emergency procedures. Many do not have a plan for each team member’s role in a practice emergency. Those practices that do have a plan should have a detailed description of OSHA procedures and an emergency officer in the practice to maintain and update this important data.

An emergency officer regularly shares updated information on emergency medicine for a dental office. Many times the doctor is the one who outlines the data to be learned and reported, but he or she does not necessarily check the dates on medications, schedule the team CPR classes, or discuss the SOPs (standard operating procedures) for a practice emergency. The emergency officer is the one who makes sure there is a plan, and that all involved know their roles.

There is a wealth of information available via the Web, books, videos, and speakers who train dental teams in emergency preparedness. Yet few team members I talk with can tell me their roles in an emergency.

Many things can happen all at once during an emergency. This is more reason for a procedure to be outlined and each individual to know his or her part. When possible, two people in the same area of the practice should share a responsibility. From vacations and childbirth to sickness and retirement, there are times when a shared responsibility could save the life of a patient, team member, friend, family, or even the doctor.

This column is different than most I write because I’m not going to give you exact procedures. Instead I suggest that you make this issue a No. 1 priority and have an unannounced team meeting, and ask each team member to share his or her role in an emergency.

Do your research and make a list of the next steps. There are enough great ideas in this issue of DE that you and your team can dramatically improve in the next month if you make emergency preparedness your team’s priority. If not now, then when will it be a priority?

Here are a few points to consider when making your plan.

First, answer some elementary questions with respect to emergencies. Who is in charge of calling paramedics? What are the parameters to call for paramedics in your practice?

Second, who is keeping an eye on those who accompany patients? Does someone keep a watchful eye on your reception room? That smoky or patterned glass that is used to keep privacy between patients and the practice staff can prevent you from monitoring what is happening in the reception room. There is a better way for privacy and prevention.

In addition, items such as checking your defibrillator and disposing of expired drugs can be overlooked if they are not one person’s responsibility. Here’s an idea. Medications that expire should not necessarily be disposed of immediately. They can be used in a drill in which designated team members practice loading the drugs to be administered by the doctor in case of an emergency.

This allows each clinical team member to practice this role. Unfortunately, for some offices, their only practice for an emergency is when they are having one. Having a mock emergency drill can save lives.

The DVD titled “Emergency Medicine in the Dental Office with Dr. Stanley F. Malamed” is a great place to start. It is also a startling way to help the team recognize that they have a responsibility. This is not a doom-and-gloom column but rather a reality check for those who pay attention to details.

The fact is that people die every day at inopportune times in inopportune locations. They die without the added stress of the dental office, medications, sedation, and health issues we constantly encounter. Take the time to get a solid plan of action or SOP for emergencies in your practice, and remember; the life that is saved could be your own!

To learn more about or to order a copy of “Emergency Medicine in the Dental Office with Dr. Stanley F. Malamed,” go to http://www.healthfirst.com/Stanley_Malamed.html.

JoAn Majors is a registered dental assistant, published author, and professional speaker. For more information on having JoAn speak to your group, her books, or her seminars, visit www.joanmajors.com or call (866) 51-CHOICE. The time is now; the choice is yours!

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