25 January 2011

Q. In the course of my work, I occasionally have to visit a patient at home due to their ill health. This would normally be to place a temporary restoration or ease a denture. At a recent postgraduate course it was suggested that it was necessary to carry a full emergency drugs kit plus oxygen and that our car insurers need to be aware of this. Is this really necessary for the few visits that I make?

When visiting a patient in their home, as a dentist you need to regard this as in effect taking a mobile surgery with you. Therefore, you would need an emergency drugs kit, portable oxygen, and observe cross-infection control measures. You should also be accompanied by a dental nurse and make a contemporaneous record of the consultation.

Here the GDC's Standards Guidance document Principles of Dental Team Working stipulates:

3.7 When treating patients, make sure there is someone else – preferably a registered team member - present in the room, who is trained to deal with medical emergencies.

I am afraid that in the present climate of regulation, this is all necessary, even for 'occasional' visits. For example, if you were to provide treatment to a patient on a domiciliary basis and they experienced a medical emergency then you would be required to justify your decision not to have emergency equipment with you.

As I am sure you appreciate, Dental Protection is not the arbiter of clinical opinion and as such does not produce guidelines however, you may wish to consider guidelines published by the British Society of Disability and Oral Health  


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