When a life-threatening emergency happens at a dental practice, dentists and their staff must be prepared with the necessary medications and appropriate training to quickly respond. Learn what standards and guidelines determine the emergency medical kit and supplies most appropriate for your dental office.
Standard of Care for Dental Emergency Medical Kits
Medical emergency preparedness guidelines are based on the concept of “standard of care” which is the general consensus of professional groups including the American Dental Association, Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons (AAOMS), and dentistry thought leaders such as noted dental anesthesiologist and professor emeritus Dr. Stanley Malamed. Standard of care represents the professional expectation of dental office medical emergency preparedness based on practice type, patient profile, location, and emergency response training.
What Should an Emergency Medical Kit Include?
When determining what belongs in an emergency medical kit, Dr. Malamed recommends asking three questions:
- What do I need in order to offer the highest level of care possible?
- How do I pass an inspection (for example, by a state dental board or an insurance provider)?
- How do I protect myself in a lawsuit?
Answers will vary based on your practice type and location, but it is always important to follow best practices to choose the drugs and equipment necessary to satisfy all three questions.
Six Core Medications for Basic Kits
Both the ADA and JADA have published guidelines for emergency medical kits for general dentistry. Dr. Malamed has published clear directives and authored a well-known textbook, “Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office.” This industry-wide expert consensus calls for six drugs in a basic dental emergency medical kit:
- Epinephrine 1:1,000
- Diphenhydramine (injectable)
In addition to the six kitted drugs, members should also be prepared with a portable oxygen setup capable of delivering positive pressure ventilation. The HealthFirst Medical Advisory Board, including Dr. Malamed, recommends the addition of a seventh drug, naloxone (often sold under the brand name NARCAN®) as a result of the opioid crisis.
State Dentistry Board Regulations
Dental practices are licensed and governed by individual state dentistry boards and not the federal government. State standards often, but not always, specify required equipment, medications, and training primarily based on the level of sedation the dentist uses. Some states treat guidelines such as the ADA Guidelines for Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia or the AAOMS Office Anesthesia Evaluation Manual as absolute requirements that must be met in order for the dentist to be issued a sedation permit.
State requirements vary widely regarding the medical emergency drugs, equipment, and training necessary for general anesthesia. The general trend is that the more sedation used, the more likely the practitioner will need to have the medications, training, and equipment necessary to perform Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and intubation.
To meet your state’s requirements for standard of care, include in your emergency kit each medication and piece of equipment that your training qualifies you to treat. Consider if your state defers authority to another body for requirements, what level of sedation you practice, if you are a member of AAOMS, and if your accreditation requires you to have any specific equipment at hand. If in doubt, contact your state dental board.
HealthFirst Emergency Medical Kits for All Dental Offices
- SM basic emergency medical kits are designed so the general dental practice can be prepared for medical emergencies and compliant with state regulations and the standard of care.
- SM-Z emergency medical kits offer advanced organization and mobility, featuring essential medications to meet the standard care. The kit is on wheels, with a telescoping handle, and places to store an AED and/or portable oxygen cylinder.
- Mobile ACLS® Emergency Medical Kits help provide dental office medical preparedness where ACLS response may be required.
All kits align with recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA), Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), and the HealthFirst Medical Advisory Board.