Risk Management Tips to Prevent a Dental Malpractice Suit From Swallowed Or Aspirated Objects From the Professional Protector Plan for Dentists

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Foreign body aspirations are serious and the medical care needs are urgent. Prompt, appropriate action, coupled with good documentation, is essential in this situation.

Malpractice Insurance and Professional Liability Insurance for Dentists and Dental Community

Professional Liability Insurance for Dentists | Malpractice Insurance

Foreign objects that disappear down the oropharynx may represent a significant health hazard as well as a malpractice risk.

Good dental risk management can prevent or minimize some malpractice claims and provide a better defense for the others.

There are a number of clinical techniques that can be used to minimize the chance that an object will be ingested or aspirated during treatment.

They include:

  • Rubber dam — arguably the best preventive device; however, it is not always possible or practical to use
  • Pharyngeal gauze block
  • High velocity evacuator — to remove tooth and restoration fragments
  • Dental floss — tied to rubber dam clamps and other small instruments; tied around bridges
  • More upright chair position
  • Modified patient head position — turn the patient’s head toward the side of treatment, allowing objects or debris to fall onto the buccal mucosa or into the buccal vestibule

Other preventive steps include good patient communication and proper staff training.

  • Warn patients that temporary crowns can loosen and unseat.
  • Provide written home care instructions to patients who have received a temporary crown.
  • Develop an action plan to respond to in-office swallowed and aspirated object incidents and train your staff on its implementation. A recent Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) article proposes an office protocol. See JADA, May 2014
  • Train all office personnel in basic life support, including the Heimlich maneuver.

Remember to contact your malpractice insurance agent in a timely manner to report the swallowed or aspirated object incident.

About Professional Protector Plan for Dentists

Through their network of specialized agents, the PPP has been insuring dentists nationwide since 1969. This comprehensive insurance program was developed specifically for the dental practice by providing insurance protection through dental professional liability insurance, malpractice insuranc e, general liability, employment practices liability, workers’ compensation, and property insurance products. Underwritten by CNA, rated “A” (excellent) by AM Best for financial stability, the PPP has proven to be a stable force in the dental professional liability marketplace.

Coverage Territory for The Professional Protector Plan for Dentists includes the following:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

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Rebecca Carter

Kristin Garrison
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