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5 reasons you need a chair-side Quick Reference Checklist during office emergencies

Here are 5 reasons that cognitive aides in the form of Quick Reference Checklists (QRC) are critical to improved performance and outcomes during a patient emergency.

  1. Medical simulation studies show that integrating a QRC into the operatory results in better management during crisis events.

  2. Pilots and nuclear power plant operators use similar cognitive aids for emergencies and rare events.

  3. During a crisis event, the stacks of relevant literature are rarely - if ever - accessible at the moment of truth.

  4. Memory worsens under stress and distractions interrupt our planned actions.

  5. Expertise requires significant repetitive practice, so none of us are experts in every emergency because we don't conduct enough mock medical emergency drills.

In fact, most dentists are not even experts in emergencies that happen often - like every year of their professional lives. In fact, one study (The Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice) says 86% of dentists are not prepared to handle a SIMPLE emergency like Syncope which happens to dentists, on average, 1.2 times per year. So now that read these stats, I'm sure you're wondering how many dentists and their teams are ready for a really serious emergency like Anaphylaxis.

It turns out that researchers have studied dentists' readiness for Anaphylaxis and it's no better than for Syncope. You could easily see how someone might think emergency preparedness might be a problem. Emergency preparedness doesn't have to be a problem when have a set of high-quality Quick Reference Checklists (QRCs) with treatment algorithms for 24 of the most common dental office emergencies.

QRCs are the chair-side, accessible cognitive aides and resources you need at the point of care during an emergency. These checklists are the "memory aids" to help dental teams remember and apply their relevant clinical knowledge appropriately - and avoid a tragedy. Because of their proven effectiveness at improving emergency performance, QRCs are used in surgical operating rooms and other acute care settings, as well as by nuclear-powered submarine crews, and airline pilots.

High-performing teams like these use QRCs because emergencies can strike at any time, and when it comes to dental practices, being prepared is paramount.

Just like nuclear power plant operators, dental teams face unique challenges in emergency situations, requiring prompt and coordinated action to ensure patient safety. High-performing teams have found QRCs useful for...

  • Ensuring the Proper Rapid Response:

During a dental emergency such as anaphylaxis, every second counts. Having a well-organized QRC allows dental teams to respond swiftly and confidently. The checklist serves as a step-by-step guide, outlining the necessary actions to be taken in specific emergency scenarios. This ensures that team members can quickly access the information they need and perform their tasks efficiently, without wasting time searching for crucial instructions.

  • Enhancing Team Coordination:

Properly responding to a patient emergency is a team game. Effective communication and teamwork are critical elements in managing emergency situations. A QRC provides a standardized framework that promotes seamless collaboration among dental team members. Each individual knows their role and responsibilities, minimizing confusion and preventing duplication of efforts. By following a shared checklist, the entire team can work in harmony to address the emergency, increasing the chances of a successful outcome.

  • Ensuring Safety and Patient Care:

Patient safety is the top priority for dental professionals. Quality of care is impossible without patient safety. Our QRCs are designed to encompass the 24 most common dental office emergencies. They guide the team in assessing the patient's condition, stabilizing them, and administering appropriate treatments until further help arrives. The checklist acts as a safety net, preventing critical steps from being overlooked and providing optimal care for the patient.

  • Mitigating Stress and Anxiety:

Emergency situations can be highly stressful for both patients and dental professionals. The presence of QRC alleviates anxiety by providing a structured approach to managing the crisis. Dental team members can rely on the checklist as a trusted resource, helping them stay composed and focused during critical moments. By having a clear plan of action readily available, the team can effectively manage their stress levels and deliver the best care possible.

  • Facilitating Training and Preparedness:

Emergency checklists play a vital role in training dental teams and ensuring their preparedness for unexpected events. These checklists serve as valuable educational tools, helping new team members familiarize themselves with emergency protocols and procedures. Regular review and mock medical emergency drills while using the QRC enable the team to stay updated on the latest guidelines and reinforce their emergency response skills.

In the dental profession, preparedness is key to providing optimal care and ensuring patient safety during emergencies. QRCs serve as indispensable tools for dental teams, enabling rapid response, enhancing coordination, and promoting patient-focused care. By following a structured checklist, dental professionals can effectively manage emergencies, mitigate risks, and navigate stressful situations with confidence and efficiency. Investing in the use and regular review of QRCs is a fundamental step toward creating a safe and well-prepared dental practice.

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