Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness


It’s National Lighthouse Day! Explore how LIGHTHOUSE kits can help overcome a medical emergency

What is the best way to successfully handle a medical emergency in the dental office? Some might say the answer is to act fast when the taxing situation arises. Some might say the solution is to work diligently when a patient is in distress. What’s our answer? First and foremost, we believe the best way to swiftly handle a medical emergency in the dental office is to be prepared.

An article written by Daniel A. Haas (DDS, PhD) and published in The Journal of the American Dental Association described that “a medical emergency can occur in any dental office, and managing it successfully requires preparation.”1 We could not agree more. With August 7th being National Lighthouse Day, we thought we would shed some light on the importance of being prepared with LIGHTHOUSE medical emergency kits.

The occurrence of medical emergencies in the dental clinic, although infrequent, are not rare. A survey conducted by Fast et al. involving 4000 dentists reported that, on average, a dentist will experience 7.5 medical emergencies during a span of 10 years.2 Tackling the topic of medical emergencies can seem daunting, but luckily, there are many actions that can be taken to ensure your clinic is prepared.

In addition to proper education and training, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) outlines that each clinic is to include six up-to-date emergency drugs. Those drugs being: oxygen, aspirin, nitroglycerin, salbutamol, epinephrine and diphenhydramine. Additionally, these medications must be housed in a labeled and organized manner, making them easily recognizable and ready to use at all times.3

Conveniently, a LIGHTHOUSE medical emergency kit serves as your one-stop-shop for handling a medical emergency. Not only do these kits include the necessary medications and tools to help save a life, but they are also impeccably organized and labeled for quick and easy use. Medical emergencies tend to happen when we least expect them to, and LIGHTHOUSE kits put the minds of both the dental professional and the patient to at ease.  After all, when it comes to patient safety, you can never be too prepared.

  1. Haas, D. A. (2010). Preparing dental office staff members for emergencies: developing a basic action plan. Journal of the American Dental Association, 141(1), 8-13. doi: 10.14219.
  2. Fast, T. B., Martin, M. D., & Ellis, T. M. (1986). Emergency preparedness: a survey of dental practitioners. Journal of the American Dental Association, 112(4), 499-501. doi: 10.14219.
  3. Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario. Information on Medical Emergencies. Retrieved from

“A defibrillator onsite? No thanks, EMS is waiting to help”: AEDs and the importance of being prepared

What does patient safety mean to you? Is a small investment worth saving a patient’s life? Or maybe the life of a staff member, or maybe even your own life? An interesting point was brought to my attention today during a Brain Food Seminar from a dentist who doesn’t believe in having an automated external defibrillator onsite due to clinic location being in close proximity to a hospital.  “We don’t need an AED, the hospital is right across the street”.

This is one of my favourite and most frequent comments I hear in the industry. People tend to forget that cardiac arrest can occur at any age, at any time, to people of all fitness levels, and without warning. We only have minutes to help before death can occur.

Although your clinic may be close to a health care facility or even across the street from emergency responders, the emergency dispatch steps work the same way regardless of your location.  Although the clinic may be located by a hospital or by an EMS station, we need to be able to take on the challenge of SCA should emergency responders be busy elsewhere.  We also need to take into consideration traffic or road congestion. With such a high-risk emergency like sudden cardiac arrest, we do not want to take the risk of waiting on immediate attention from an outside party. For the health of our dental community and patients, I encourage all clinics to be equipped with an easy to use defibrillator because of course; it’s easier to be over prepared than under prepared.

A dental professional’s guide to preventing medical emergencies: To be forewarned is to be forearmed

Do we really know what we are getting into at the beginning of each and every dental day? We typically expect for each day to be like the last: successful and without mishap. I once read that 90% of life-threatening situations can be prevented. But how?

Prior to treatment, the patient will complete a medical history form, which is a moral and legal necessity to all health care professions. As important as the completed written medical history form is for the overall health of the patient, it has its limitations.

As a dental professional, I play an important role in emergency prevention. I often casually converse with the patient upon seating by asking how they feel about the day’s treatment or how they’re feeling in general. Responses from the patient could include having a headache, feeling hunger or feeling stressed. This is all part of physical evaluation. Once I develop a good idea of the patient’s physical circumstances and psychological state of mind, I communicate with the dentist. This is especially important if I hear of a potential emergency trigger.  As patients tend to be nervous, scared or stressed to see the dentist, they may choose to confide in another dental team member instead. The physical evaluation tactic is used to determine how and if the patient should be treated (forewarned). A dental clinic should not feel obligated to treat a patient if they feel the patient is at risk of an emergency. We ask ourselves before the start of treatment: Should we sedate the patient for comfort? Are they able to tolerate the treatment? Do we need to modify treatment in any way? (forearmed).

As dental professionals, we care about the well-being of our patients. That is why understanding and performing a physical evaluation is so important. These physical evaluations aid in the prevention of a medical emergency.


If I am performing sedation, do I need an AED?

What do you consider to be “sedation”? Some clinicians consider “nitrous oxide” to be a form of sedation. Do you agree? Sedation is defined as either the state of being relaxed or sleepy because of a drug or the act of drugging someone with a sedative.  In dentistry, there are different types of sedation levels including mild-moderate sedation and deep sedation in which such sedative medications are being taken before dental treatment to tranquilize the patient for their procedure. This happens quite often in a variety of clinics. Due to the commonality of this in practice, its often overlooked. However, any time a sedative (medication) is involved in the practice, the medical emergency armamentarium changes as well.

Province dependant, an Automated External Defibrillator is required in clinics upon the use of benzodiazepines. As of now, it is strongly recommended in all clinics but required where mild-moderate – deep sedation (and of course general anesthesia) is performed. In 2017 L’Ordre des dentistes du Québec updated their regulations to have all dental clinics across the province to be equipped with an AED whether or not sedation is involved. If you are not sure whether or not you need an AED at your clinic, it’s better to have one and be prepared than to not. The Philips HeartStart Onsite is proven to be one of the easiest AED’s on the market for all staff members, trained or not.

If your clinic is delivering sedation, altering someone’s state of mind, an AED must be present in your clinic.  According to the heart and stroke foundation, cardiac arrest can occur at any age, any time, to people of all fitness levels without warning. Are you prepared to save a life? Are you complaint based on your clinic’s profile?

You can buy Philips HeartStart Defibrillator at HANSAmed’s iSHOP or you may Contact us for more information about the Philips HartStart AED