Non-Traumatic Dental Issues in Hospital Emergency Rooms: Solutions and Strategies
Patients with dental pain have been increasingly accessing hospital emergency departments
(EDs) to manage acute episodes of dental neglect.
These patients typically receive antibiotics and pain management medications in the ED,
but lack awareness of where and how to locate dental treatment offices or clinics to resolve the issue.
This report focuses on innovative models that reduce ED costs, improve dental quality and bring community stakeholders together for the purpose of public benefit.
Template steps are offered for those considering how to begin an ED
referral program in their community.
While prevention programs may be numerous and accessible within a geographic area,
patients frequently delay oral health services until there is an urgent need or may be unaware
of service locations.
Many health center dental departments report a 35-40%3 missed appointment rate for adults
with attempts at reducing barriers to basic dental care.
As typical dental expenditures represent 2% of an overall state Medicaid budget,
it is that 2% which is frequently eliminated as state legislators respond to budgetary pressures.
Comprehensive adult dental benefits now exist in fewer than half of the U.S. states.
The result of these cutbacks often leads to an increase
in emergency room (ER) traffic for dental pain patients.
There have been several studies and much discussion regarding hospital ED usage for
patients suffering from dental pain. An estimated $1.6 billion in healthcare costs6
has been attributed to those who use hospital EDs as a first stop for urgent dental needs,
despite Medicaid expansion.
Emerg Med Open J. 2017; 3(1): 16-19. doi: 10.17140/EMOJ-3-134