Aspiration or Ingestion|Dental

Incidents, Accidents or Near-misses

We had a recent incident where a dentist fitting a gold crown, quickly reaching for articulating paper left the unsecured crown in the patients mouth, the patent made a sound and it had disappeared!

Had it been ingested or aspirated?

What does this mean from a health and safety perspective?

We all know, if its been Ingested, there should be no problem with the crown moving through the digestive system and passing out the other end. There are a few exceptions to this rule, but once all the necessary medical tests have been conducted and the patient has been cleared its just a matter of time.

That's an Incident and as no serious injury is suffered by the patient it should be recorded in the "Incident /Accident (Near-miss) Register", if there were any circumstances surrounding the incident that could call the competency of the provider into doubt or a contributing factor that is unclear an investigation into the incident is recommended. The incident should be discuss at the next staff meeting so everyone knows what happened, any proposed changes discuss with workers to allow their input on how to minimize or eliminate the chance of it happening again. A Safe Working Procedure (SWP) for the task can then be drawn up and any controls adjusted in the Risk Register.

However, though the risk of Aspiration is low, there is always that possibility and the outcome could be much worse.

WorkSafe states that "All injuries or illnesses which require a person to be admitted to hospital for immediate treatment are notifiable."

With that in mind check out these examples from the WorkSafe website:

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