How dental team members describe adverse events

Peter Maramaldi, Muhammad F. Walji, Joel White, Jini Etolue, Maria Kahn, Ram Vaderhobli, Japneet Kwatra, Veronique F. Delattre, Nutan B. Hebballi, Denice Stewart, Karla Kent, Alfa Yansane, Rachel B. Ramoni, Elsbeth Kalenderian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Although some patients experience adverse events (AEs) resulting in harm caused by treatments in dentistry, few published reports have detailed how dental providers describe these events. Understanding how dental treatment professionals view AEs is essential to building a safer environment in dental practice. Methods The authors interviewed dental professionals and domain experts through focus groups and in-depth interviews and asked them to identify the types of AEs that may occur in dental settings. Results The initial interview and focus group findings yielded 1,514 items that included both causes and AEs. In total, 632 causes were coded into 1 of the 8 categories of the Eindhoven classification, and 882 AEs were coded into 12 categories of a newly developed dental AE classification. Interrater reliability was moderate among coders. The list was reanalyzed, and duplicate items were removed leaving a total of 747 unique AEs and 540 causes. The most frequently identified AE types were “aspiration and ingestion” at 14% (n = 142), “wrong-site, wrong-procedure, wrong-patient errors” at 13%, “hard-tissue damage” at 13%, and “soft-tissue damage” at 12%. Conclusions Dental providers identified a large and diverse list of AEs. These events ranged from “death due to cardiac arrest” to “jaw fatigue from lengthy procedures.” Practical Implications Identifying threats to patient safety is a key element of improving dental patient safety. An inventory of dental AEs underpins efforts to track, prevent, and mitigate these events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)803-811
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Adverse event
  • cause
  • classification
  • dentistry
  • never event

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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