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ADA 2018 Survey on Preparedness for Medical Emergencies in the Dental Practice

2018 Survey on Preparedness for Medical Emergencies banner image

The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Dental Practice (CDP), with support from the ADA Health Policy Institute (HPI), conducted the 2018 CDP Survey on Preparedness for Medical Emergencies in the Dental Practice. The purpose of the survey was to assess preparedness for medical emergencies that could occur in the dental practice.

Key findings revealed that the top three medical emergencies occurring in dental practices during the 12 months prior to the survey were not specific to the dental setting or treatment. Those incidents were syncope (39.77 percent), epinephrine reaction (37.43 percent), and postural hypotension (33.92 percent). The top ten reported emergencies also included allergic reactions, injuries requiring first aid, hyperventilation, seizures, insulin shock, and asthma.

A large percentage of dental offices said that they are prepared to handle medical emergencies.

  • Almost 97 percent of all dental practices reported having a plan for responding to medical emergencies.
  • More than 86 percent of those practices reported that they have trained staff to respond to medical emergencies that can occur in the practice. The most common types of staff training for managing medical emergencies in the practice were:
    • reviewing written materials – 60.26 percent
    • live training by an outside presenter – 58.01 percent
    • training exercises – 52.56 percent
  • Almost all practices (96.52 percent) have at least one staff person trained in Basic Life Support as offered by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.
  • More than 93 percent of dental practices have an emergency medical kit with drugs to manage routine medical emergencies.
  • Practices with emergency medical kits containing medications report having:
    • epinephrine auto-injectors for adult patients – 83.57 percent
    • epinephrine auto-injectors for pediatric patients – 61.76 percent
    • oxygen available for emergencies – 94.96 percent
    • an automated external defibrillator (AED) – 75.73 percent

The survey was emailed to a random sample of 20,014 professionally active licensed dentists, including general practitioners and specialists, ADA members, and non-members. The initial survey invitation was emailed to the sample on February 22, 2018. Data collection ended on March 7, 2018.

The survey was completed by 529 individuals, giving it an overall adjusted response rate of 2.8 percent, which is typical for an online survey of a random sample of dentists or dental practices on a topic of specific interest in dentistry.

The 2018 CDP Survey on Preparedness for Medical Emergencies in the Dental Practice report is available for download. Please contact CDP staff at with any questions regarding the survey report.

Download the complete survey (PDF)