AED: A Life-Saving Device for Every Office
A Life-Saving Device for Every Office
?I?ve been in practice for 30 years and have never had an emergency in my office.?
How many times have we heard this or said it ourselves? When I hear this comment, I have mixed emotions. On one hand, it means that dentists, as a profession, are doing what we can to avoid running into these situations by screening and following best practice protocols. On the other hand, it seems like, statistically, we are due!
It is nearly impossible to predict every unfortunate event that can happen in a public setting like our office or even to predict who is the most at risk. As health care providers, we are frequently promoting prevention to our patients, and yet we often don?t know who is at high risk until we see the physical side effects. We teach our patients how to avoid dental caries, periodontal disease, and guide them in what is most likely going to allow them to retain their teeth throughout their lifetime. However, when we have to react to a dental problem, sometimes it is too late and the tooth must be extracted. Prevention is the key for a long and healthy dentition.
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) accounts for 295,000 deaths outside of hospitals each year in the United States. That is more than lung cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined. The thing that frightens me most about this statistic is that many of these SCA cases are people we would consider at low risk or without any previous indication that something is looming under the surface.
When dealing with the emotional anxiety that many patients experience while visiting the dentist, the perfect storm can set off the reaction that we all fear the most?the SCA or heart event in our office. It is a tragic event for our patients, and it is devastating to us psychologically as well as disruptive to our schedule. I would rather be prepared to be a hero for my patients than not.
During SCA, the normally organized electrical impulses that initiate our heartbeats discharge chaotically, and the heart muscle twitches spasmodically. There?s rarely any warning, and a victim of SCA usually collapses and stops breathing immediately. The chances of survival from SCA fall by 7% to 10% every minute, and the single most effective treatment for SCA is early defibrillation? providing a shock to the heart within the first 5 minutes.
Many of these irregular rhythms are undiagnosed and just waiting for a trigger like a stressful event. We read of young athletes dying today because of undiagnosed heart conditions that might have been treated with immediate intervention.
Life-Saving Device?The AED
That being said, many states have now mandated the presence of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in public spaces. An AED is a portable device that can guide anyone with minimal training to administer a shock through the chest to someone in cardiac arrest.
I recently had the opportunity to tour Physio-Control?s state-of-the-art facility. I was impressed by their commitment to excellence as well as their history of leadership in the AED industry. They have a wide variety of professional products that will meet any office?s needs. For example, the LIFEPAK series of AEDs provides all clinicians with a tool that can save a patient?s life?or the life of a fellow staff member.
I encourage every dental practice to be prepared for an emergency by having an AED available in the office. For that one patient in your career that might need it, the AED will be worth every penny.