Patient emergencies in the dental office: They happen. Be ready.

Imagine the 32 year female in your office on a typical morning.

My patient was new and was referred because of medical history issues that included a seizure disorder. No sooner had I entered the room to visit with the patient and her mother then indeed she had a seizure. Her mother assured me that it was typical and would resolve shortly. Forty five minutes later she was transported from my office to the hospital. Still seizing.

During the first few minutes we provided supportive care allowing her to seize without hurting herself. We were calm because her Mom was calm. But after a few minutes her Mom began to say she was a little surprised that the seizure had not ended. I directed my staff to attach a blood pressure cuff and pulse oximeter and we began low volume O2. Vital signs were normal and O2 saturation was within normal limits.

Around ten minutes after the seizing began we called 911. I was not prepared to administer a drug to stop a seizure, especially since I was not aware of the origin. It was puzzling and scary.

I initiated the emergency response system for our office.

EMS arrived at about twenty minutes into the episode. The patient was still seizing. The first question the EMS technician asked was about the medical history. We were ready. Available to me at the chair was a complete medical history and drug history. I had it printed and recited it to the EMS technician.

While we were waiting for the EMS to arrive we followed an on screen prompting program for managing a patient having a seizure. The program was initiated during the first few minutes of the episode and the entire office was quietly informed that there was an emergency occurring and each person’s job was put in front of them on each computer monitor in the office. Rather than scurrying down the hall causing alarm, in the patient’s room we pressed the emergency button and the process was followed. We were practiced and ready.

And there’s my point. All offices should practice and be prepared for patient emergencies. Using a software device that enables both practice and real time emergency management is key.

Dental Symphony users have access to the office wide emergency system that is easy to follow and is customizable.

The first step in an emergency is to push the emergency button:

emergency button

The staff is then presented two buttons to choose from


As soon as one pressed one of these buttons a pathway is taken to manage the patient. And importantly as one moves from this point all computers in the dental office will have a notice popup informing of the emergency and providing prescribed job of each staff person.

At the scene of the emergency if one presses Responsive these options appear:

  1. Syncope
  2. Chest pain
  3. Tachycardia
  4. Breathing problems
  5. Early hypoglycemia
  6. Signs of a stroke

Choosing as an example Chest pain one see this:


Using a prescribed and practiced system to prepare for emergencies just makes sense. Having your staff ready for emergencies takes some time but it well worth it. All emergencies should be prepared for. Know how your staff will manage chest pain,

syncope, breathing problems, signs of a stroke, seizure, cardiac arrest and more. Make it helpful to the patient and easy on yourself.


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Dental Symphony offers ePatient: the only HIPAA compliant Online Patient Registration System with the exclusive “Pre-Clinical Analysis” tool.

ePatient was created by Dentists for Dentists and is easily adaptable for any type of practice with free customization.

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