What Do I Need in my Emergency Medical Kit?

Emergency medical kits in the dental office

The question of what belongs in an emergency medical kit needs to be answered in three parts: What do I need in order to offer the highest level of care possible?  How do I pass an inspection? How do I protect myself in the event of a lawsuit? While the answers to each question will differ slightly, the ultimate answer is that you always want to follow Best Practices. Best Practices are comprised of the drugs and equipment to satisfy all three questions.

SM-Z emergency medical kit
SM-Z emergency medical kit for the dental office

How Do I Offer the Best Possible Patient Care?

To properly answer this question, we need to first understand what the term “Standard of Care” means, and why it is significant to dentistry. Standard of Care is used to determine what the basic steps taken by a dentist of quality would be in a given situation. It represents the industry expectation for what preventative steps each dentist should take.

Since Standard of Care can be variable, and since each state has different requirements, the safest bet is to take the most prohibitive stance, and include in your kit each emergency medication and piece of equipment that your training qualifies you to treat. By doing so, you will ensure that you are in maximum compliance, and be the most ready in case of emergency.

How Do I Pass an Inspection?

Since dentistry does not fall under interstate commerce, the regulations are left to each state as to what is explicitly required, and the answers vary wildly, and often include what would otherwise be guidelines from other organizations as absolute requirements, like making the ADA Guidelines for Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia or the AAOMS Office Anesthesia Evaluation Manual standards for what a facility needs in order for the dentist to be issued a sedation permit. What this means is that you have to ask yourself a series of questions, typically, to get to the answer you need:

  •           What state am I in?
  •           Does my state defer authority to another body for requirements?
  •           What level of sedation do I practice?
  •           Am I a member of AAOMS?
  •           Does my accreditation require me to carry any specific equipment?

Based on the answers to these questions, you will get variable answers for requirements. To find out definitively, you can ask your state dental board, or you can call an expert to help with your compliance needs.

How Do I Protect Myself From a Lawsuit?

SM emergency medical kit
SM emergency medical kit for the dental office

In addition to being in the general best interest of providing care to a patient, Standard of care is significant because it is used in a court of law to determine whether or not a person fulfilled their legal obligation to their patient. It is important to note that fulfilling state or society requirements is not always the same as achieving standard of care; you need to do both.

Your individual requirements are very different based on all of the above variables. In order to make sure that you best understand these requirements, schedule a call with a HealthFirst Compliance Counselor at 1.800.331.1984.

Doctor Malamed has authored more than 140 scientific papers and 17 chapters in various medical and dental journals and textbooks in the areas of physical evaluation, emergency medicine, local anesthesia, sedation and general anesthesia. In addition, Dr. Malamed is the author of three widely used textbooks, published by CV Mosby: Handbook of Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office (6th edition 2007); Handbook of Local Anesthesia (6th edition 2011); and Sedation - a guide to patient management (5th edition 2010) and two interactive DVD’s: Emergency Medicine (2nd edition, 2008) and Malamed’s Local Anesthetic Technique DVD (2004)


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