Dental Health Info Article

Pilot Protocol Improves Dental Care:

Airline pilots are known for navigating the skies while dentists are regarded for providing their patients with dental care. Despite the differences in the career paths, the jobs are both considered to be complicated, highly technical and can be jeopardized by human error. It is because of those similarities that pilot protocol is becoming the MO in dental clinics nationwide.

Many professional dentists and dental care insiders have found that the safety checklist utilized in flying can be tweaked and implemented to minimize the risk of human error exasperating dental problems. In both fields the technique is called Crew Resource Management (CRM) and following the protocol has been proven time reduce human error time and time again.

History of CRM

Flying the friendly skies used to a bit more dangerous prior to flight crews implementing the CRM process. The protocol was first introduced to pilots during a NASA workshop in 1979 as a training program to help flight crews act as a cohesive unit to improve air safety and minimize the number of fatal crashes directly linked to human error. Since the implementation of the training technique the commercial aviation industry has evolved to be the safest form of transportation.

The process focuses on improving interpersonal communication, leadership, and decision making of a flight crew so the team can take proactive, not reactive measures during their regular job or even a flight emergency. The CRM process involves a multilevel approach focusing on information, equipment and people in order to determine errors early in order to reduce the risk of problems getting out of hand in the air. Research has indicated that the same philosophy can be directly applied to dental care as well.

CRM and Dental Care

There is no arguing that flying a plane and delivering dental care require different skills and education, but despite those differences, there are similarities that have made the pilot protocol a smart step to take in a dental office. Within that particular setting, dentists are the captains of the dental care ship and the dental hygienists and additional office staff are the crew members to ensure that a patient is comfortable and well taken care of on their journey. The CRM is an added level of protection to help ensure that is possible.

The theory that following the CRM could be beneficial in the dentistry industry was tested by a team of dentists including Harold M. Pinsky, DDS, Russell S. Taichman, DMD, DMSc and David P. Sarment, DDS, MS. The team tested their hypothesis and in 2010 authored a report published by the Journal of the American Dental Association. As a result, following a safety checklist has become commonplace for many dental care providers and is most effective when the entire team follows the identical checklist.

CRM Based Dental Checklist

Since a printed checklist is good enough for pilots and Santa the five-phase dental checklist has become a recommendation for dental practices as well. The recommended CRM dental check list produced by the author focuses on five areas of concern:

  • Appointment Review: Focuses on the medical/dental background of a patient plus specifies individual conditions such as allergies, medication and dental anxiety. Plus the list focuses on ensuring proper communication surrounding the dental procedure that prompted the dental office visit.
  • Before Procedure: This step involves the dental team properly communicating with a patient regarding the procedure, all steps and potential deviations that may be required to ensure dental health success.
  • Procedure Implementation: During this phase the required dental care will be provided and the dental team will keep patients updated about the process or strategy changes that may have developed.
  • Before Dismissal: At this time, the dental care team will review what dental procedures were implemented and deliver detailed instructions regarding oral hygiene, nutrition, medication and any other tips to enable a speedy recovery.
  • After Dismissal: The CRM protocol concludes with the dental team adding new information based on a treatment to a patient's file, correcting any equipment issues that may have been unearthed during the dental care and organizing any follow up procedures that may need to be provided.

Individuals looking for a dentist that follows the CRM protocol can call 1-800-DENTIST to get the name of a qualified provider in the area.