Background: Only a few data exist about the occurrence of emergencies in dental practice and the training experience of dental practice teams in life support. This study evaluates the incidence of emergencies in dental practices, the attitude of dentists towards emergency management and their training experience.
Methods: Anonymous questionnaires were sent to all 2998 dentists listed in the Saxony State Dental Council Register in January 2005.
Results: 620 questionnaires were returned. 77% of the responders expressed an interest in emergency management and 84% stated that they owned an emergency bag. In the 12-month study period, 57% of the dentists reported up to 3 emergencies and 36% of the dentists reported up to 10 emergencies. Vasovagal syncope was the most frequent emergency (1238 cases). As two cardiac arrests occurred, it is estimated that one sudden cardiac arrest occurs per 638 960 patients in dental practice. 42 severe life-threatening events were reported in all 1 277 920 treated patients. 567 dentists (92%) took part in emergency training following graduation (23% participated once and 68% more than once).
Conclusion: Medical emergencies are not rare in dental practice, although most of them are not life-threatening. Improvement of competence in emergency management should include repeated participation in life support courses, standardisation of courses and offering courses designed to meet the needs of dentists.
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