Dental emergencies presenting to a general hospital emergency department in Hobart, Australia

S Verma, I Chambers
Australian Dental Journal 2014, 59 (3): 329-33

BACKGROUND: Dental problems presenting to general hospital emergency departments (GHEDs) may create difficulties as there may not be appropriate facilities or personnel to manage them. The incidence and demographics of dental presentations to GHEDs in Tasmania are currently unexamined. This knowledge may be relevant in shaping dental service delivery.

METHODS: The Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH) was used to audit dental presentations through 2012. The presentations were analysed with respect to demographics and management. A literature review regarding dental presentations to GHEDs was also undertaken.

RESULTS: Four hundred and fifty-four patient presentations to the RHH Emergency Department (ED) in 2012 were primarily of a dental nature, comprising 0.91% of all ED presentations. Sixty per cent of patients were male, and most were younger than 30 years. Dental abscesses and toothache accounted for 66%. Nine per cent of dental presentations (including 21% of infections) resulted in hospital admission.

CONCLUSIONS: Dental infections contribute a significant burden of ED dental presentations. Encouraging and facilitating patients to seek timely and appropriate primary care from dentists may decrease the number of presentations to ED, and the drain on time and resources. Additionally, this may spare patients from the unpleasant experience of an acute dental infection episode.


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