The role of a Dental Assistant involves being able to perform a variety of duties. It also requires being detail-oriented, alert, and able to react calmly and quickly in emergency situations. A Dental Assistant observes all dental procedures, assisting both Dentists and Dental Hygienists to perform quality procedures for all patients.
While most dental procedures are routine and take place without incident, emergency situations do take place. Eliminating shortcuts for procedures and staying alert with the focus on the needs of the patient will help prevent emergencies from occurring. Planning and preparation can help Dental Assistants be able to resolve issues and remedy emergency situations with positive results for all involved.
People have been known to stop breathing during dental procedures or have allergic reactions to local anesthetics. During such a situation, it is vital that Dental Assistants are properly trained in how to assist. It is recommended that Dental Assistants know how to perform CPR. Some dental facilities require monitoring of a patient’s vital signs to help them monitor for any side effects or other issues.
Another incident that can take place in a dental facility is accidentally swallowing something, causing the patient to choke. A patient can choke on dental equipment, tools, extracted teeth, or other materials. Since most procedures are done under anesthesia, the patient may not be able to control reflexes to push the object away from the throat. Dental Assistants must know how to quickly react to prevent serious injury or death from occurring.
Likewise, objects including dental tools, extractions, and other materials might be dropped or ricochet, landing in the eye of a patient. Eyewash stations are generally available in dental facilities. Dental Assistants need to make sure they are familiar with how they work and where they are located in the facility.
On occasion, a patient may suffer from other health issues not related to their dental procedures. These health issues may include a heart attack, stroke, or blood clot. Therefore, it is important for Dental Assistants to be trained in basic medical issues as well as those that relate to dental procedures.
There are other types of emergency situations that can occur in a dental facility that Dental Assistants can help with. In the event of a fire, quickly remove all patients from the building. This needs to be done to keep everyone as calm and comfortable as possible.
During an emergency in the dental facility, patients should not be left alone under any circumstances. Dental Assistants and other staff members have a duty to the patient to administer quality emergency services until the proper medical response team arrives to take over. It is important for the Dental Assistant to be able to inform the medical response team of the changes the patient exhibited as well as documentation of everything that took place prior to the event. This information can help medical response teams pinpoint the issue faster and provide adequate medical care.
Since medical emergencies don’t often occur in dental facilities, it is important for staff to have regular meetings and reminders about the proper procedures in the event an emergency does take place. Practice drills are a great way to keep the policies and procedures fresh in the mind of all staff members. It is important to post phone numbers of all emergency agencies in several locations where all staff can easily access the information. However, it is not recommended the information be posted where patients can see it. For those who are already nervous about coming in for a procedure, seeing that information is not going to ease their level of anxiety. Being prepared for such emergencies will make a difference in the outcomes.
Dental Assistants need to address the issue of emergency care at the start of their employment. If no such policies and procedures are in place, encourage your employer to establish them. It only takes one incident of a medical emergency taking place for a dental facility to be sued. If they are found to be negligent it could result in charges being filed or the business having to close down. Protecting your job and the business you work for as well as providing quality procedures for all patients will ensure job security.