Dentists May Adopt Pilot-type Checklists

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Aug. 5 (UPI) — Dentists are using checklists to ensure no task is forgotten, in much the same way as pilots have used lists since before World War II, U.S. researchers say.

A dental professor at the University of Michigan and two dentists, who are also pilots, say implementing a checklist of safety procedures in dental offices similar to those used by airlines would reduce errors made by dentists.

Checklists makes for a safer, more standardized routine of dental surgery, but it is major culture shift that may take a while to catch on, the researchers predict.

“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,’” study co-author Harold Pinsky, a full-time airline pilot and practicing general dentist, says in a statement. “But if all team members have a 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.’”

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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