Do's and don'ts for handling emergencies

2016 11 18 14 42 01 206 Practice Success2 400

Emergencies are, by nature, unexpected. Yet every dental practice should expect that, from time to time, patients will present with emergency needs. These events will be disruptive, especially when you have a full schedule of planned patient care. But you can minimize the negative consequences.


Based on practice history, leave schedule openings for emergency cases. With experience, you and your staff will have learned what types of emergencies are likely to occur, how often, and how much time you'll need to cope with them. Reserve time for possible emergencies, and be prepared to fill those slots with nonemergency patients who are on standby so that production time will not be lost.


Don't let patients decide what constitutes an emergency. Your front desk coordinator should triage patients who call in with emergencies. Whereas you need to see a patient experiencing serious pain as soon as possible, someone whose crown just came off may (with some reassurance from you) be able to wait until the next day for a repair.

Dr. Roger P. Levin is CEO of Levin Group, a leading practice management and marketing consulting firm. To contact him or to join the 40,000 dental professionals who receive his Practice Production Tip of the Day, visit or email

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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