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What Do You Mean You've Called 911?

How emergency checklists can improve dental patient safety and prevent dental patient deaths.

"I never thought I would go into a dental office and come back a widow," said the wife of a dental patient that experienced an emergency during treatment. She was waiting in the lobby that day, and couldn’t understand why the procedure that was supposed to take just 20 or 30 minutes had been taking much longer. When she went to ask about the delay for the third time, she realized something had gone horribly wrong. “They are like, ‘We are handling it, we have a crash cart ready, we’ve called 911.’ And I’m like, ‘What do you mean you’ve called 911? What’s happening?’” Her husband was in the midst of a dental medical emergency. Investigators from the dental board would later discover that in the panicked minutes after dental staff realized the patient was in distress, his oral surgeon tried and failed to place an endotracheal tube, and the dental team never even attempted CPR - forgetting the basics of Advanced Life Support. Paramedics were finally able to regain a pulse, but the patient had been deprived of oxygen so long, he was brain dead. After several agonizing days in the hospital, his family took him off life support. Would a Quick Reference Checklist (QRC) have made a difference in those panicked minutes of this dental medical emergency?


Quick Reference Checklists are a proven solution to effectively managing a high acuity, low frequency, increased complexity medical emergency in the dental office.

Absolutely, unequivocally you ARE going to forget simple lifesaving skills and protocols during a high-stress, pressurized event! Dental patient safety means not losing a patient because you didn't use a QRC and thus forgot a critical life-saving step in the midst of an emergency. Here are the main benefits of a QRC:

  • Helps ensure ALL the steps in an emergency treatment algorithm are completed

  • Reduces medical error and improves performance under pressure

  • Improves teamwork effectiveness and reduces cognitive overload when patent deterioration or equipment failure occurs

Your dental office emergency response team MUST HAVE laminated QRCs in each operatory. Why?

  • You can’t grab a book during an emergency

  • You can’t use your computer during an emergency

  • You can’t use an App on your phone during an emergency

Your QRC can be used for:

  • Conducting a Pre-Event ‘just in time’ review for at-risk patients

  • Referencing during a patient emergency for crisis management

  • Conducting a Post-Event team debriefing & review of actions

  • Education, self-review, and small group teaching

  • Conducting simulated emergencies (such as our Mock Medical Emergency Drills Guide) and debriefing sessions

A QRC is a low-tech, inexpensive, one-time purchase that actually works in high-pressure situations.

We recommend purchasing a QRC for each operatory so you'll never have trouble locating them when a patient is deteriorating. They can be purchased individually or as a complete set:

  • The General Dentistry QRC - 12 pages covering 24 emergencies - $129

  • The Sedation Dentistry QRC - 4 pages covering 8 emergencies - $79

  • The Pediatric Dentistry QRC - 6 pages covering 12 emergencies - $99

Or, purchase all three QRCs in a bundle for only $349 per set. Priceless!

QRC for General Dentists - $129 for 24 Medical Emergency laminated algorithms

QRC for Pediatric Dentistry - $99 for 12 laminated medical emergency treatment algorithms

QRC for Sedation Dentistry - $79 for 8 laminated medical emergency treatment algorithms

Your preparation determines your outcome in a dental medical emergency. This tragic patient death proves the adage that we never rise to the occasion during an emergency, we sink to the level of our training and tools. While no specific outcome can ever be guaranteed, you can improve your dental emergency preparedness!

Having and using a QRC in your dental practice documents your due diligence to be Medical Emergency Prepared with the correct training and tools when the inevitable emergency occurs. Improve dental patient safety and Prepare today... order your QRCs to save a life, save your practice, and preserve your future.

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