Emergency drugs and equipment in primary dental care

This publication is a reviewed and updated publication of the NDAC 1999 publication ‘Emergency Dental Drugs’. It identifies a list of drugs and equipment which should be available to manage medical emergencies within the dental setting.

2 Medical emergencies

All dental practitioners and dental care professionals may have to deal with medical emergencies. Fortunately, these are rare but can be life threatening. The ‘Prescribing in Dental Practice’ section of the British National Formulary (BNF)[1] lists the following medical emergencies which may arise in dental practice.

  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Asthma
  • Cardiac emergencies
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Syncope (faint)

Additional medical emergencies which may be encountered include aspiration, choking and stroke.[2]

The Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability, Exposure approach (ABCDE) should be followed when assessing and treating patients with a medical emergency.[3]

Details of the management of these medical emergencies are provided in BNF's Medical Emergencies in Dental Practice and SDCEP's Drug Prescribing in Dentistry Medical Emergencies section.


Email: NHSDentistry@gov.scot

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