Public perception of dentists' ability to manage a medical emergency

Vaughan, M., Mahoney, G., Sholapurkar, A., and Esterman, A. (2019) Public perception of dentists' ability to manage a medical emergency. Journal of Military and Veterans' Health, 27 (3). pp. 19-24.

PDF (Published version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview
View at Publisher Website:


The importance of dentists to be able to manage a medical emergency in dental practice has been an established concept for many years, with medical emergency training being incorporated into dental undergraduate training programs as far as back as 1981. However, for far longer than this, dentists have held a professional role in the staffing of military field hospitals, providing emergency care to injured and ill members of the armed forces. Despite awareness of the importance of such skills, Australian studies have shown dentists often lack appropriate proficiencies and equipment for the effective and efficient management of medical crises that may arise as a part of routine dentistry. The only identified literature review on medical emergencies within dentistry recently found the majority of both students and graduate dentists were unable to correctly perform life support procedures3. This is a finding of concern when recent studies on the prevalence of medical emergencies in dentistry suggest that the incidence may be increasing, due to a myriad of factors. The populations of developed countries are generally getting older and consequently suffer from more acute and chronic conditions; notably, it has been argued that patients with multiple chronic diseases are more likely to suffer from a medical emergency. Simultaneously, a greater number of practitioners are utilising drugs such as sedatives compared to years past. These findings coincide with observations that dentists are being taught less clinical medical science than they have historically, and are further being seen as service providers to a consumerist public, rather than their trained role as health professionals. Although all schools of dentistry in Australia require their students to hold first aid and basic life support (BLS) certification, the requirements for practicing dentists to undergo ongoing training or medical emergency certification varies across countries and governing bodies. Australian dentists are not specifically required to undergo ongoing training in the management of medical emergencies, despite it being strongly recommended by the Australian Dental Association. Further, the public's expectation of dentists' competence in medical emergency management is likely much higher than what dentists may hold of themselves15, and reports on unpublished studies corroborate this suggestion. In the current military framework, Australian Defence Force (ADF) Dental Officers (DO) are often involved in the early triaging and stabilisation of injured members who have been evacuated to a role two facility but are not yet in receipt of advanced medical care. This too mandates a high level of knowledge and proficiency in emergency medical management. Given the special semi-autonomous status afforded to the self-regulation of dentistry there is a professional responsibility to meet or exceed public expectations, or such deficiencies may be legislatively mandated. To date, no published studies could be found examining the public's opinion of dentists' ability to manage a medical emergency in a dental setting, nor whether a patient's own medical status impacts on whether they visit a dentist because of concerns about a medical emergency. Based on this, the aim of this research is to quantify the public's attitudes towards dentists’ proficiency in a medical crisis.

Item ID: 59143
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1839-2733
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2019 01:59
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3203 Dentistry > 320399 Dentistry not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9299 Other Health > 929999 Health not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 946
Last 12 Months: 16
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page