Victoria Ximena Gómez Cruz

Submitted 2022-10-16

EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE, A DENTAL INSIGHT

As a health practitioner I know the relevance of giving professional attention, but at the same time being able to reflect the concern for the health condition of our patients and the interest of helping them with their current situation. 

Throughout my life as a student I was constantly reminded of the importance of the emergency medical care, so much so, that, at the high school I studied at, every year they taught CPR courses, and me, being a health sciences student at that time, learned not only CPR but other techniques, such as Heimlich maneuver, immobilize a sprain arm or leg and how to make a tourniquet or bandage, knowledge that is important to acquire in any emergency.

I am currently an Intern in dentistry, and I know it might be considered as a lower risk area speaking of incidents that require emergency medical attention, but the truth is that it has as many risks such as  any other medical area. 

Everyday people with medical alerts arrive at the dental office, being these, mainly, hypertension, diabetes and allergies to medications or any of the materials that are used during dental treatments. In Mexico, the main causes of death are hypertension and diabetes, that means that a great percentage of patients with these illnesses are not controlled, which implies a higher risk of an incident occurring. According to data from the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, INEGI, for its acronym in Spanish, in 2020 the mortality rate from diabetes in Mexico was 11.95 people per 10 thousand inhabitants, a high percentage. According to data from the same institution, in Veracruz, state where I currently live, deaths from this disease exceeded 12 thousand in 2020.

On the other hand, as stated by INEGI statistics, the percentage of cases of high blood pressure was 51% in 2020, 24.9% were men and 26.1% women. We are talking about more than 30 million people in our country suffering from this disease, not mentioning the  cases where people have both diseases.

Dental treatments generally require the use of local anesthesia, and, speaking of dental extractions, there is always a chance of preventing moderate bleeding. If we don’t treat these patients with the right protocol, there’s a high possibility of them fainting, getting a hemorrhage, and even having a heart attack or anaphylactic shock, in those situations the patient life is in our hands, and it depends on us to give them emergency medical attention.

I can speak of a close experience, in which a relative went to the dentist to undergo root canal treatment, it should be noted that this family member does not suffer from any of the diseases mentioned above. Something went wrong during the procedure and this person ended up having severe bleeding, accidents can happen to anyone, but it is up to us to act quickly and solve the problem. Unfortunately, the dentist in charge of the treatment didn’t have the knowledge of what to do in a situation like that, he just seemed worried and conveyed that concern to my family member. Finally, he called a colleague who helped him solve the problem. Nothing serious happened, but it was an extremely traumatic event for my relative. 

It is crucial to be mentally prepare as well, because maybe this dentist knew all the protocols by heart, but he just blocked out at the moment, that is why we must maintain calm and clear our thoughts, so we can act right away, of course, always keeping in mind our patients’ physical and mental health.

It is well known that most of the people are afraid of us dentists, that is why we must avoid reaching these critical situations, and if any arise, have the capacity and knowledge to fix them immediately, in that way our patients will have more confidence in us.

It is important to not only be up-to-date on topics in our area, in my case dentistry, but also on health issues in general, this by attending courses,since information, methods and techniques become obsolete or change as time goes by. Keeping our information fresh will help us to provide quality care and, what is more important, can help us to save someone’s life.

As a dentist, what is more important to me is being able to see my patients smiling again, and I know that giving them a second chance in life will bring them the greatest joy and the biggest smile that could ever exist. Personally, I have never had to deal with an incident that required emergency medical attention, but I consider myself capable of dealing with an emergency situation.

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