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.

4 Emergency equipment in the dental practice

The following items of equipment[7] must be available at all times.

1. Oxygen cylinder(s) (See Emergency drugs).

2. Oxygen face mask capable of delivering high concentrations of oxygen (reservoir bag) with tubing.

3. Basic set (0, 1, 2, 3, 4) of oro-pharyngeal airways for adults and children.

4. Bag-valve-masks, adult and child versions.

5. Portable independently powered suction machine with appropriate suction tips and tubing.

6. Single-use sterile syringes (1 ml), and blue (23G, 25 mm) or green (21G, 38 mm) needles.[8]

7. Spacer device for inhaled bronchodilators.[1]

8. Pocket masks with oxygen port available in every surgery.

9. Automated External Defibrillator (with adhesive defibrillator pads, razor and scissors).

Note: AEDs can be mapped on to the Ambulance Service control system so that, in the event of a medical emergency near the practice, the call handler will know that a defibrillator is available in the practice.[9] Depending on how the AED was procured, this may be a local health board requirement.[10,11] The individual practice should decide whether to continue or suspend clinical activity while the AED is being used elsewhere given that a patient collapse requiring resuscitation in the practice at the same time is extremely unlikely.

The following, while not essential for medical emergencies, are helpful for assessing the patient’s condition:

  • pulse oximeter (to monitor oxygen saturation);
  • glucometer (for rapid assessment of blood sugar levels to distinguish between low and high levels, which can present with similar symptoms);
  • non-invasive blood pressure (NIBP) monitor.

4.1 Emergency equipment in sedation dental practices

In addition to the emergency equipment listed in the table above, the following equipment, which is required when providing intravenous, oral or transmucosal sedation, would be a useful adjunct in managing a medical emergency.

1. Pulse oximeter with audible alarm: for ongoing monitoring.

2. Blood pressure monitor: for patient assessment visit and pre- and post-treatment readings.

3. Nasal cannula set: for giving supplemental oxygen.


Email: NHSDentistry@gov.scot

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