Syncope is the most frequent medical emergency encountered in the dental setting. It can be caused by psychological stressors such as fear, pain, or the sight of blood, hypoglycemia, and pre-existing cardiovascular conditions. Syncope is by far the most common medical emergency in dentistry that affects patients. Fortunately, it is also the easiest to manage, according to Dr. Stanley Malamed, professor of anesthesia and medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Malamed noted that the contents of the emergency kit have changed over time, from just four drugs to fifteen. However, for about a decade now, seven drugs have been recommended as standard; this number has been adjusted as medical knowledge has evolved. He pointed out that for every minute a person experiences cardiac arrest without defibrillation, they lose approximately 10% of their chance of survival. Since 2000, training on the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) and administering Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) has been provided together. Currently, only one state (Florida) requires dentists to have an AED in their office (starting February 20).
Practicing emergency drills can help office staff be more confident in their roles when a real emergency occurs. It is essential that dentists and their staff are prepared to recognize, respond to, and effectively manage any medical emergency.