Dentists do not need to stock as many emergency drugs as general practitioners, however we are required to have fully equipped and well maintained emergency equipment in our surgery.

As stated in the recently published Therapeutic Guidelines: Oral and Dental,1 the minimum requirements for emergency situations in the dental surgery are oxygen, a disposable airway, and adrenaline. For dental practices performing more extensive procedures, or with an increased proportion of medically compromised patients, then more equipment and medications are required.

Medical emergencies in dental surgeries are uncommon so there is a risk that medications will expire before they are needed. It is incumbent on dentists to ensure that the drugs in their emergency equipment are not out of date. Ideally, there should be a system for checking emergency drug stocks and expiry dates, perhaps by a monthly inventory. Many dental practices probably already have such an inventory and it can be easily foreseen that such documentation may well become part of any potential practice audit.

Emergency drugs are not available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for dentists and must be purchased at full cost. This anomaly should be redressed.


Michael McCullough

Australian Dental Association