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When A Patient Dies In Your Dental Office


A lot of people fear the dentist. The sounds and pain are bad enough. In a worst case scenario, patients can even die while in the dentist’s chair.

It’s not a common situation, but it can happen. When a patient undergoes sedation and a dentist is unprepared, they are more likely to experience a patient death as well as the after effects. A patient death can lead to a medical malpractice lawsuit. The state dental board, as well as the judge and jury, will find that you did not meet the standard of care. You could lose your license and be forced to pay damages to the victim’s family.

If your office is prepared, then you have nothing to worry about. If you don’t have any protocols in place, then you better get a plan in place together now to avoid a fatality.

If a patient does die in your dental office under your care, you will be interrogated. You will be asked a slew of questions, such as:

  • What is your and your staff’s training in preparing for sedation emergencies?
  • Do you and your staff have basic life support training, advanced cardiovascular life support training, and pediatric advanced life support training?
  • Have you ever attended a medical or sedation emergency course?
  • Do you have all of the necessary emergency medications on hand?
  • Do you have an automated external defibrillator (AED)?
  • What kind of training have you and your staff had with the AED?
  • What documentation do you use during a medical or sedation emergency?
  • What is your medical emergency plan?
  • Did you call 911 during this emergency? If so, when did you decide to do so? How long did it take emergency medical services to arrive?
  • Do you have a training log outlining your medical and sedation emergency drills?
  • Which medications did you use to treat this emergency?
  • Who inspected your office for medical and sedation emergency preparedness?

Preparing for Emergencies

Here’s how to prepare for emergencies in your dental office:

  • Complete a medical history on every patient who comes into the office.
  • Your staff should be trained on how to prepare for medical and sedation emergencies.
  • Have appropriate gear on hand, such as a glucometer, an AED, an emergency drug kit, and proper airway equipment.
  • Pharmaceuticals. Have current, non-expired emergency medications in your office.
  • Develop a medical emergency plan that is regularly reviewed by everyone in the office.
  • Stay current when it comes to emergencies. Training for emergencies monthly and take your role seriously.

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Dentistry License Lawyer

In any medical field, preparation is key. A lack of planning can lead to chaos, patient emergencies, and even death.

As a dentist, you need to be trained in more than just dental procedures. You need to be knowledgeable of emergency protocols as well. A Tampa dentistry license lawyer from The Law Offices of David P. Rankin, P.A. can assist you with any administrative issues you may face. I’ll help you hold onto your license. Schedule a consultation by calling (813) 968-6633 or filling out the online form.