Sedating Children for Dental Work: Safety Considerations

August 30, 2017 | Risk Management News

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​Organizations that provide pediatric dental services may be interested in an article about safe sedation for children published on August 24, 2017, in the New York Times. Several cases of sedated children dying at dental offices have been brought to the public's attention in recent years, the article said. To ensure children are safely sedated, certain protocols must be followed, according to 2016 guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The article in the Times advised parents to understand sedation, noting that the guidelines say “it is common for children to pass from the intended level of sedation to a deeper, unintended level of sedation. " Some children, such as those with enlarged tonsils, those younger than six, and overweight or obese individuals are at greater risk of complications related to sedation, such as airway obstruction, the article said. Undergoing sedation “is above and beyond routine dentistry," an expert quoted in the article said, so parents were advised to ask about alternatives when sedation is presented, especially for more minor procedures like those involving less-advanced cavities.

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