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Emergency medical kits support patient safety, buffer practice liability

Red emergency kit with logo of first aid cross on front

The high probability that a dental practice someday will experience an emergency medical episode is something that Dr. John Graham has thought much about.

“As a profession, dentists are highly exposed to the potential for a medical emergency,” said Dr. Graham, a private practice physician, oral surgeon and orthodontist in Salt Lake City, Utah. “These are not hospital-based settings, and so if someone has a medical emergency, you need to be prepared to do something between the time that you recognize the emergency and the time that Emergency Medical Services arrive to take over the care of that patient.”

When considering potential for the occurrence of emergency medical episodes in his own orthodontics practice, Dr. Graham has done the math and found the number of possibilities astounding when accounting for the fact that every dentist has not just his or her patients to consider, but also anyone who enters her or his office.

“The reality is that there is a bunch of people that come in to an orthodontist’s office that are not the orthodontist’s patients,” Dr. Graham said. “Many of those people are adults, and some of them are even older adults — grandparents. So, we have a lot of these people in our offices, and their medical history is totally unknown to us as the health care provider in that setting. If you do the quick math on all of that, then what you end up with is, in that very average setting, over 22 million adults that are in orthodontic practices every single year. Now, if you add that to all the other specialties where you are doing surgical and dental procedures that number goes up far higher than that.”

To protect both his patients and others in his office and to buffer his practice against liability, Dr. Graham outfits his practice with a HealthFirst Emergency Medical Kit, which has an ADA Member Advantage endorsement. He also subscribes to maintenance services that automatically replace expired medicines and other kit components. He is a member of the HealthFirst Advisory Board. His goal is to help other dentists with best practices and top-notch products.

“HealthFirst has been the leader in office medical preparedness for years now,” Dr. Graham said. “It is one of the few companies that is really solely dedicated to emergency preparedness in a nonhospital setting for health care professionals.”

Dr. Graham points to HealthFirst’s relationship with Dr. Stanley Malamed, a renowned dental anesthesiologist, as another attestation of the quality of its Emergency Medical Kits. 

“Stanley Malamed is one of the members of our medical advisory board, and he’s also the preeminent and most famous person in all of dentistry when it comes to emergency preparedness,” Dr. Graham said. “He’s a dentist himself, but also he’s written books on dental anesthesia. I remember, as a dental student 24 years ago, having my Stanley Malamed book on how to give injections and things like that. He’s also very involved in emergency care.”

The HealthFirst kits include choices that cover all types of dental practices, including the SM Series Emergency Medical Kit for the general dental practice; the SM-Z Series Emergency Medical Kit, which provides organization and mobility for a practice’s emergency medications, devices, first-aid supplies, oxygen and automated external defibrillators; and the Mobile ACLS Emergency Medical Kit, which is a mobile solution containing medications and devices appropriate for a dental office practicing IV sedation and which can also carry an oxygen tank and an automated external defibrillator. 

HealthFirst also offers services that complement and support its Emergency Medical Kits, such as its OnTraq and Auto-Replenishment Services that track medication and device expiration dates and automate refills before expiration.

“I think that puts HealthFirst, when you combine all of that, in sort of a league of its own,” Dr. Graham said.

For more information on HealthFirst Emergency Medical Kits, visit ADA Member Advantage

Ms. Williams is a Chicago-based freelance writer and editor who specializes in practice and research news for dental and medical professionals. She can be reached at