Checklist Enumerates “Never” Events for Dentists

Dentistry Today


Researchers have drawn up a list of scenarios that patients never should face in a bid to ensure excellent care worldwide, reports the University of Edinburgh. The checklist, which includes failing to note patients’ allergies and not screening for mouth cancer during checkups, is the first international agreement of its type in dentistry. The researchers say that it could be a major step forward in improving patient wellbeing across the globe. 

Monitoring these events will allow clinicians to quickly identify serious errors in procedure and could enable health authorities to monitor dentists’ performance, the researchers say. The consensus refers to “never” events, failures so severe that they should not happen under any circumstances when correct procedures are followed. 

Never events for doctors, such as performing surgery on the wrong part of the body or leaving surgical instruments in a patient after an operation, are well established in medicine. Until now, the same practice not been widely used in dentistry, with safety guidelines varying throughout the world. 

“Never events are a vital way to flag failures in a procedure that put patient safety at risk. By listing a consensus position on never events in dentistry, we hope that regulators and professional bodies will be able to assess the frequency of such events and reduce their occurrence,” said Aziz Sheikh, MD, MS, MBBS, director of the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

Using electronic questionnaires, the researchers engaged an international panel of experts to develop a detailed list of never events for dentists. The agreed list covers routine assessments as well as surgery and includes examples like equipment not being sterilized and prescribing the wrong medication to children. 

“Our definitive list of never events reflects a collaborative international effort to improve patient safety. We hope the list will improve care for all patients by creating an environment of openness where all members of the dental team can easily report adverse incidents,” said Raman Bedi, BDS, MSc, DDS, head of the Centre for International Child Oral Health at King’s College London and a former chief dental officer of England.

The consensus, “Developing Agreement on Never Events in Primary Care Dentistry: An International eDelphi Study,” was published by the British Dental Journal and was funded by the Mexican National Council for Science and Technology. It was carried out by the University of Edinburgh, Cardiff University, and King’s College London.

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