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IHS Triaging and Treating Dental Conditions in the Emergency Department Initiative

Each year in the U.S. there are over 2 million Emergency Department visits related to dental conditions. Of these, 110,000 result in hospital admissions. 26.1% of dental-related ED visits are from patients who self-pay (do not have a third-party payer, compared to 11.8% of non-dental related ED visits. 42.2% of dental-related ED visits are from patients with Medicaid, compared to 32.4% of non-dental related ED visits. In the 46 IHS and tribal hospitals in FY 2022, there were 9,501 dental-related ED visits, about 1.4% of all ED visits. This project replicated a project in Wisconsin to teach ED medical providers how to triage and treat dental conditions for patients presenting to the ED. Project goals included the following:

  1. Increase awareness of diagnosis of different dental conditions presenting in the emergency department.
  2. Increase communications and timely referrals between IHS and tribal emergency departments and dental programs.
  3. Decrease the number of opioid prescriptions for dental conditions in the emergency department.
  4. Promote antibiotic stewardship in relation to dental conditions in emergency departments.
  5. Enhance skills of ED medical providers in administering local anesthesia for patients presenting with dental pain.