One in 140 A&E cases is dental problem

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One in every 140 visits to a large UK hospital emergency department is for dental problems, a large cross sectional study has shown.1

Almost a third of the adult UK population seek dental care only when they have acute problems and frequently consult healthcare professionals other than dentists.

Researchers carried out a cross sectional study to collect anonymised data from records of all patient visits to the medical emergency department at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, as part of a service evaluation. They analysed figures showing visits for oral and dental conditions over the three year period from January 2013 to December 2015, excluding patients who were admitted for inpatient care, on the basis that this had justified an emergency hospital visit.

The results, reported in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation,1 showed 2504 emergency department visits for dental related complaints not requiring hospital admission over the three years studied, accounting for 0.7% of all attendances.

“This may not be the most appropriate place for these patients to attend, in terms of health, care pathways, and also for economic reasons,” said the researchers, led by Justin Durham, consultant oral surgeon at Newcastle University.

They highlighted that the average cost of a medical emergency department visit is £132 (€154; $163), with no charge to the patient. This compares with £25.61 for an emergency visit to ...