Va. dental board considers stricter medical emergency rules

The Virginia Board of Dentistry has accepted a petition filed by the Raven Marie Blanco Foundation to ensure that dental professionals in Virginia are better prepared for dental medical emergencies.

The request to amend regulations and any comments for or against the petition will be considered by the board at its meeting on March 9, 2012, according to the foundation.

March 9 is the five-year anniversary of Raven Maria Blanco's death. The 8-year-old died in 2007 after a Virginia Beach dentist administered three drugs to calm her while she had her teeth cleaned and calcium deposits removed.

At present, Virginia has no requirements mandating that all dentists maintain an ability to respond appropriately to an unexpected medical emergency either resulting directly from treatment (dental and/or anesthesia) or as a random event (such as myocardial infarction, stroke, hypoglycemia, and seizure).

Currently, the only medical emergency preparation required for all Virginia dentists is maintaining basic CPR. Given an aging population, with increasingly complex medical histories and receiving increasingly complex treatment, the current standard is insufficient.

The foundation's petition asks that the Six Links of Survival become part of the renewal process for dental licensure in Virginia. The Six Links of Survival was developed in 2003 by the Institute of Medical Emergency Preparedness to provide dentists with a practical method to ensure that dental offices are comprehensively prepared to manage a medical event.

The six areas of preparation are listed below:

  1. Dentist's training
  2. Staff training
  3. Mock drills
  4. Maintaining a written emergency plan
  5. Stocking appropriate medications
  6. Maintaining appropriate equipment

The foundation also intends to petition the Maryland dental board and other dental boards across the U.S., according to Nicole Cunha, executive director.

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