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Nig Q J Hosp Med. 2009 Sep-Dec;19(4):190-4.

An assessment of the competence and experience of dentists with the management of medical emergencies in a Nigerian teaching hospital.

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  • 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos.



Previous reports show that medical emergency events have ocurred in Teaching Hospital Dental centres, with attendant mortality and morbidity.


(1) To study the pattern of medical emergencies encountered by clinical dental staff of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (2) To evaluate their training, perception of their training and competence as undergraduates and postgraduates to manage such events.


All the clinical staff viz: Dental surgeons of different cadres--consultants, registrars, house surgeons and dental nurses of Lagos University Teaching Hospital. A structured questionnaire requesting to know demographic data, respondents attendance of life support training viz: Basic life support (BLS), advanced trauma life support (ATLS), intensive care support (ICS). A self rating in the competence of management of medical emergencies and previous personal encounter with medical emergencies with success/failure in the management with/or without medical colleage assistance were sought. In addition adequacy of their dental clinic/centres for drugs, equipments and their perceived readiness to deal with emergencies were enquired.


Among the dental surgeons, 20 (26.6%) were consultants, 40 (53.3%) were registrars and 35 (46.6%) were house-officers. Thirty five (43.7%) had previous knowledge of basic life support (BLS) training, while 45 (56.2%) denied such knowledge. The figures for other trainings such as advanced trauma life Support (ATLS) was 8 (10%) and intensive care support (ICS) 2 (2.5% 73.3% of the respondents felt inadequate in the management of cardiovascular emergencies, while only 15.4% felt adequately prepared. Similar ratings for respiratory emergencies are 63.1% inadequacy, 16.9% adequacy, and only 3.3% felt very adequate. The availability of oxygen extension tubing and ambu bag was nil in all departments. Emergency drugs were claimed to be present by 28.5% oral surgery respondents and, 34.7% Child Dental Health respondents. Most of the respondents felt their clinics are not adequately prepared to deal with medical emergencies.


The study showed that syncope is the commonest medical emergency event in dental surgery practice in our teaching hospital, others are bleeding, seizure disorders and asthmatic attacks. The constitution of hospital emergency team (consisting of cardiologists, anaesthetists) as done in advanced countries is advocated and dentists should ensure that the departmental staff are adequately trained to provide basic life support.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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