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Minyé HM, Benjamin EM. Br Dent J. 2022;232:879-885.
High reliability organization (HRO) principles used in other high-risk industries (such as aviation) can be applied patient safety. This article provides an overview of how HRO principles (preoccupation with failure, situational awareness, reluctance to simplify, deference to expertise, and commitment to resilience) can be successfully applied in dentistry.

Blythe A. NC Health News. March 10, 2022

Patient harm in dentistry is receiving increased attention and scrutiny. This story covers a medication incident and the lack of safety support that contributed to the death of a patient receiving oral surgery. It discusses the response of the patient’s family and their work to change regulations for dental sedation.
Yansane A, Tokede O, Walji MF, et al. J Patient Saf. 2021;17:e1050-e1056.
Clinician burnout is a known threat to patient safety. This survey of a national sample of dentists found that approximately 1 in 10 respondents reported high levels of burnout and 50% of respondents reported a perceived dental error in the last 6 months. Efforts to minimize burnout among dentists may help improve patient safety.
Chua K-P, Brummett CM, Conti RM, et al. Pediatrics. 2021;148:e2021051539.
Despite public policies and guidelines to reduce opioid prescribing, providers continue to overprescribe these medications to children, adolescents, and young adults. In this analysis of US retail pharmacy data, 3.5% of US children and young adults were dispensed at least one opioid prescription; nearly half of those included at least one factor indicating they were high risk. Consistent with prior research, dentists and surgeons were the most frequent prescribers, writing 61% of all opiate prescriptions.
Wessels R, McCorkle LM. J Healthc Risk Manag. 2021;40:30-37.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted healthcare delivery. This study reviewed data from a large medical professional liability company to explore guidance sought by physicians and dentists during the initial months of the pandemic. Providers’ questions and concerns primarily involved operations (e.g., access to personal protective equipment, liability coverage), patient care (e.g., guidance for screening patients), scope of practice, and use of telemedicine.    
Obadan-Udoh E, Panwar S, Yansane A-I, et al. J Evid Based Dent Pract. 2020;20:101424.
Patient safety events are common in dentistry. A survey administered to adult dental patients found that a majority of them were concerned about their safety at the dental office but that those concerns were not routinely shared with dental providers or clinic staff. Efforts to improve patient engagement and speaking up behaviors can improve safety in dentistry.
Brown KW, Carlisle K, Raman SR, et al. Health Aff (Milwood). 2020;39:1737-1742.
Over the last decade, children have experienced a dramatic rise in hospitalizations and intensive care unit stays related to opioid use. Based on Medicaid claims in North Carolina, prescribers of opioids for children were most commonly physicians and dentists. More than 3% of children ages 1 to 17 years had at least one opioid prescription filled annually; 76.6 children per 100,000 experienced an opioid-related adverse event or other harm. Adolescents ages 15 to 17 years disproportionately experienced these harms compared to younger age groups. Black and urban children were less likely to fill opioid prescriptions or experience adverse events, but they were more likely to experience other opioid-related harm, such as abuse or dependence.   
Zhou J, Calip GS, Rowan S, et al. Pharmacotherapy. 2020;40:992-1001.
This study analyzed the association between potentially inappropriate prescribing involving opioids prescribed by dentists and emergency department visits and hospitalizations among older patients. Results indicated that a significant proportion of older patients prescribed opioids by their dentist have contraindications (such as psychotropic medication use) which places them at increased risk for 30-day hospitalizations.
Mann B. National Public Radio. 2020;July 17.
Despite efforts to reduce opioid prescribing for pain management, physicians and dentists still overprescribe these medications. This news story shares concerns regarding how engrained the reliance on medications for pain management is to the culture of care and its role in opiate dependence and abuse.
Sarasin DS, Brady JW, Stevens RL. Anesth Prog. 2020;67(1):48-59. 
This two-part series discusses anesthesia- and sedation-related medication errors and adverse events in healthcare and dentistry (part 1) and how these errors impact dentistry and approaches to address these issues within a dental anesthesia medication safety paradigm - the Dental Anesthesia Medication Safety Paradigm (DAMSP) - which offers four general guidelines for reducing anesthesia medication errors and adverse drug events in dentistry (part 2).
Perea-Pérez B, Labajo-González E, Acosta-Gío AE, et al. J Patient Saf. 2020;16.
Based on malpractice claims data in Spain, the authors propose eleven recommendations to mitigate preventable adverse events in dentistry. These recommendations include developing a culture of safety, improving the quality of clinical records, safe prescribing practices, using checklists in oral surgical procedures, and having an action plan for life-threatening emergencies in the dental clinic.
Farooqi OA, Bruhn WE, Lecholop MK, et al. Int J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2020;49:397-402.
The over-prescribing of opioids is a recognized contributor to patient harm. This multidisciplinary panel developed six recommendations to manage pain after dental procedures while reducing harm to patients: (1) Offer alternatives to opioids after dental surgery to interested patients when clinically appropriate. (2) Avoid prescribing opioids after dental surgery if pain is comfortably management with over-the-counter medication. (3) Advise patients about non-pharmacological therapies (e.g., cold, heat, distraction). (4) Teach patients to maximize non-narcotic (over the counter) pain medication with scheduled dosing unless contraindicated. (5) Engage in shared decision-making with patients. (6) Consider factors such as medical contraindications, risk for addiction, and risk aversion when prescribing opioids.
Suda KJ, Zhou J, Rowan SA, et al. Am J Prev Med. 2020;58:473-486.
National guidelines published in 2016 recommend prescribing low-dose opioids for short durations when necessary, including in dentistry practices. This cross-sectional analysis of over 500,000 commercial dental patients over a five-year period (2011-2015) examined prescribing practices prior to the recommendations and found that 29% of prescribed opioids exceeded the recommended dose for management of acute pain and half (53%) exceeded the recommended days’ supply. The authors emphasize the importance of evidence-based interventions tailored to dentistry to curtail excessive opioid prescribing.
Walji MF, Yansane A, Hebballi NB, et al. JDR Clin Trans Res. 2020;5:271-277.
Building upon prior research developing trigger tools for identifying preventable errors in dentistry, this study reviewed 1,885 electronic health records (EHR) across four dental practices and found that 16% contained an adverse event. The most common events were pain (27.5%), hard tissue (14.8%) or soft tissue injuries (14.8%) and nerve injuries (13.3%). An EHR-based trigger tool can be an effective approach to identifying safety incidents and measuring the quality of care.
Stahl JM, Mack K, Cebula S, et al. Mil Med. 2019.
This retrospective study of dental patient safety reports in the military health system demonstrated an increase in reported events, which may reflect improvements in safety culture. Wrong-site surgery was the most common adverse event, suggesting the need to enhance safety practices in dentistry.
Harbaugh CM, Lee JS, Chua K-P, et al. JAMA Surg. 2019;154:e185838.
This retrospective cohort study found that adolescent patients who received opioids for surgical and dental procedures were more likely to develop persistent opioid use if they had family members with long-term opioid use. The study team recommends preoperative screening for long-term opioid use in family members as part of prescribing decision-making for adolescent patients.
Schroeder AR, Dehghan M, Newman TB, et al. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179:145-152.
This retrospective cohort study found that opioid-naive adolescents who received an opioid prescription from a dentist were more likely to receive a subsequent opioid prescription or be diagnosed with an opioid use disorder compared to opioid-naive adolescents who did not receive an opioid prescription from a dentist. This finding is consistent with prior studies in adults, demonstrating increased risk of subsequent opioid use following short-term prescriptions. The authors urge caution in prescribing opioids to adolescents.
Nainar SMH. Pediatr Dent. 2018;40:323-326.
Patient safety concepts that have been embraced by hospital and ambulatory medical care are increasingly being applied to dental practice. This review discusses adverse events in pediatric dental patients and suggests that when they occur, such incidents affect the ability of dental practitioners to provide care. The author highlights peer support as an important tactic to assist these second victims.
Neily J, Soncrant C, Mills PD, et al. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1:e185147.
The Joint Commission and National Quality Forum both consider wrong-site, wrong-procedure, and wrong-patient surgeries to be never events. Despite improvement approaches ranging from the Universal Protocol to nonpayment for the procedures themselves and any consequent care, these serious surgical errors continue to occur. This study measured the incidence of incorrect surgeries in Veterans Health Administration medical centers from 2010 to 2017. Surgical patient safety events resulting in harm were rare and declined by more than two-thirds from 2000 to 2017. Dentistry, ophthalmology, and neurosurgery had the highest incidence of in–operating room adverse events. Root cause analysis revealed that 29% of events could have been prevented with a correctly performed time-out. A WebM&M commentary examined an incident involving a wrong-side surgery.
Ensaldo-Carrasco E, Carson-Stevens A, Cresswell K, et al. Br Dent J. 2018;224:733-740.
This Delphi study aimed to identify expert consensus on never events in dentistry. The resulting list of 23 events includes medication errors, retained objects, and wrong patient and wrong procedure events across diagnostic and treatment activities and is consistent with existing never events in medicine.