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06-5631-20021: Medical Emergencies Management and Risk Management: Medical Error Prevention

Course Description:

Contact Hours (CE): The Academy of Dental Learning and OSHA Training, LLC, designates this activity for 6 continuing education credits (6 CEs).
Cost: $60.00
Questions? Contact Us: Phone: 800-522-1207, Fax: 800-886-3009, or Email:
Published: August 2013
Updated June 2020
Expires July 2023
Pages: 67
Course Instructors: Megan Wright, RDH, MS
No conflicts of interest are reported by the authors or by educational planning committee members.

Educational Objectives

  • Understand the steps to prepare the dental office for a medical emergency.
  • Know the role of the current medical history and patient vitals.
  • Identify the most common dental office medical emergencies & the protocols for management.
  • Review steps in administering CPR.
  • Know the office emergency plan.
  • Know the contents of a basic emergency kit.
  • Understand the legal aspects of management of office emergencies.
  • Define the following terms: Errors of commission, Errors of omission, Errors of execution, Adverse events, Near misses, Diagnostic errors, Surgical/treatment errors, Medication errors, and Malpractice.
  • Know the responsibilities of a dentist or dental health care attendant when an adverse event or error occurs.
  • List proximal factors contributing to medical errors.
  • List nine safety goals for dental practice.
  • List the four elements of negligence.
  • Understand why vicarious liability is an important legal issue in dental practice.

Course Description

This continuing education course is designed for all members of the dental staff as a comprehensive review of management of basic medical emergencies in the dental office—in order to fulfill requirements for license renewal. Many state dental boards require a course in medical emergency management and it is up to individual licensees to know their state board requirements.

Medical emergencies can occur at any time in the dental office. In a survey of 4,000 dental offices, 75 percent said they had treated medical emergencies in the last ten years. According to Dr. Anthony Feck, author of Preparing for Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office, a peer-reviewed publication written in 2012, “statistics tell us that medical emergencies are 5.8 times more likely to occur in dental offices than in medical offices.

Dental healthcare professionals have a responsibility to be aware of the risk of medical errors and to be proactive with strategies to prevent or minimize potential risk. The dental professional must be proactive in every controllable area to minimize risk of liability to the practice and more importantly, the absolute safety of the dental patient. In 1999 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published an influential article entitled, To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System, which focused attention on the issue of medical errors and patient safety. The report indicated that as many as 44,000 to 98,000 people die in hospitals each year as the result of medical errors. Even using the lowest estimate, this would make medical errors the eighth leading cause of death in this country–a higher death rate than motor vehicle accidents (43,458), breast cancer (42,297) or AIDS (16,516). An estimated 7,000 people per year die from medication errors alone--about 16 % more deaths than the number attributable to work-related injuries. Patient safety is the number one priority throughout healthcare today.

Risk management and patient safety have always been a concern in dental practice. In our litigious society, exposure to liability seemingly increases every year. In routine dental care, patient injury or death is less frequent compared to our medical counterparts. Yet patient safety is as important in the dental operatory as it is in a hospital operating room. While dental practitioners do not perform life and death surgery, they perform procedures and administer medications that affect a patient’s total health and safety.

About the Author

Ms. Wright is a continuing education editor and writer as well as a Temp PRN with agencies in the Washington State area. Ms. Wright earned her MS at the UNM and Pierce College of Washington State in 1997 and certification in Utilization of the 970 Diode Laser and Safety in Dentistry in February of 2015. Ms. Wright works to implement Dental Education seminars as a Hospital-Dental Liaison building collaborative, mutual efforts to promote patient wellness between medical practitioners and dentists while prioritizing care for untreated, medially compromised patients.

How to Take This Course

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Contact Hours: 6.00
Price: $60.00

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