never eventsA list of dental ‘never events’ has been published by researchers led by the University of Edinburgh.

This is the first time a list of scenarios that ‘patients should never face’ has been put together, with the university claiming it will ensure excellent patient care worldwide.

The full list of mistakes a dentist should never make includes:

  1. Breaking the patient’s jaw
  2. Pulling out the wrong tooth
  3. Treating the wrong patient
  4. Injecting the wrong anaesthetic
  5. Injuring the patient’s eye, due to the omission of appropriate eye protection
  6. Leaving foreign objects behind in the patient after surgical procedures
  7. Inhalation by patient of ‘foreign objects’
  8. Failing to sterilise instruments
  9. Failure to register patient’s history of allergies to medication
  10. Use of dental material in a patient with known history of allergy to the dental material used
  11. Prescription of a drug to a patient with a known allergy to the drug
  12. Reusing disposable items instead of throwing them away
  13. Failure to refer for oral cancer assessment after patient’s lesions do not heal after two weeks of receiving treatment
  14. Failure to implement oral cancer screening as part of the routine assessments
  15. Prescribing incorrect medication to children.

Never events are a vital way to flag failures in procedure that put patient safety at risk,’ project lead, Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s usher institute of population health sciences and informatics, said.

‘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.’

‘Improve patient safety’

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh engaged with an international panel of experts to develop the list.

The agreed list covers routine assessments as well as surgery and includes equipment not being sterilised and dentists prescribing the wrong medication to children.

‘Our definitive list of never events reflects a collaborative international effort to improve patient safety,’ Professor Raman Bedi, emeritus professor at King’s College London and former chief dental officer of England, who was involved in the study, said.

‘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.’