Medical emergencies

Standards and guidance

All registrants must follow the guidance on medical emergencies and training updates issued by the Resuscitation Council (UK).  (1.5.3 Standards for the dental team)

The Resuscitation Council’s document Quality standards for cardiopulmonary resuscitation practice and training is its main medical guidance document for dental professionals. We endorse this document and expects registrants to apply this guidance in practice.

Equipment requirements – defibrillators and emergency drugs

Defibrillators

We endorse the Resuscitation Council’s guidance that all clinical areas should have immediate access to an automated external defibrillator (AED).

What does this mean in practice?

Premises in which patients are seen clinically should have a defibrillator. This includes practices in which patients are seen by:

  • A dentist only
  • A clinical dental technician only
  • A dental hygienist or dental therapist only
  • A combination of members of the dental team

Emergency drugs

We endorse the Resuscitation Council’s guidance that clinical dental settings staffed by dentists, hygienists, and therapists, are to have an emergency drugs kit. Further guidance on what drugs should be contained in emergency drugs kits can be obtained from the Department of Health and via the British National Formulary (you will need to subscribe to the British National Formulary in order to log into their website.)

Clinical dental technicians: We recognise that the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 prohibit clinical dental technicians from purchasing or holding the prescription-only medicines contained within an emergency drugs kit. We do not therefore expect a clinical dental technician to have an emergency drugs kit or be trained in the use of an emergency drugs kit. We are aware that CDTs who work independently will not have an emergency drugs kit on their premises.

Dental hygienists and therapists: the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 permit dental hygienists and therapists to hold emergency drugs on their premises, but not to purchase the medicines directly. A dental hygienist / therapist practice needs to ensure that they hold emergency drugs on site. Hygienist / therapist practices without an on-site dentist can obtain an emergency kit through a prescribing dentist or doctor under a patient-group directive.

Staff skills requirements

A patient could collapse on any premises at any time, whether they have received treatment or not. It is therefore essential that all registrants must be trained in dealing with medical emergencies, including resuscitation, and possess up to date evidence of capability.

Scope of practice

Registrants must know their role in the event of a medical emergency, and ensure they are sufficiently trained and competent to carry out that role.

If the setting in which you work changes, your role in the event of a medical emergency may change as well. You must ensure that you are suitably trained and competent to carry out your new medical emergency role. This might be the case for:

  • A dental hygienist moving to independent practice under direct access
  • A clinical dental technician moving from a dentist’s premises to independent premises
  • A dental nurse working in a school
  • A dental nurse assisting with domiciliary visits