Pilot safety protocol could help reduce dental surgery errors

Dentists and pilots – both are professions that have no room for the smallest error, so a new research questioned: Why can’t the same safety standards that apply to pilots be used for dentists too?

Russell Taichman, U-M dentistry professor Michigan and two pilot-dentists believe that implementing this theory would drastically reduce human errors.

Crew Resource Management empowers team members to actively participate to enhance safety using forward thinking strategies, said Taichman.

“Using checklists makes for a safer, more standardized routine of dental surgery in my practice,” said David Sarment, a pilot and a dentist.

CRM checklists in the dentist”s office are an inevitable change, said co-author Harold Pinsky, also a dentist and full time pilot.

“If I’m doing a restoration and my assistant sees saliva leaking, in the old days the assistant would think to themselves, ‘The doctor is king, he or she must know what’s going on.’”

But if all team members have a CRM checklist, the assistant is empowered to tell the doctor if there is a problem.

“Instead of the doctor saying, ”Don”t ever embarrass me in front of a patient again,” they’ll say, ”Thanks for telling me.””

For the next step, the co-authors hope to design a small clinical trial in the dental school to test CRM, Taichman said.

The study will appear in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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