Ability of the wider dental team to triage patients with acute conditions: a qualitative study

Jennifer Kirton, Wendy Thompson, Jeremy Brown

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Objectives To understand the attitudes, skills and knowledge of dental reception and practice management teams relating to urgent dental appointments and to identify additional training needs.
Methods Two focus groups were held with members of dental practice reception and management teams (n = 15). Thematic analysis of the focus group transcripts identified topics, and these were explored in more detail through semi-structured interviews with focus group members (n = 5).
Results Approaches to triaging people with acute dental problems varied in relation to individual skills and practice policies/ethos. Balancing the needs and desires of patients, dentists and other members of the dental team was challenging. Helpful practices included: dedicated appointment slots for unscheduled patients and a system of feedback between clinical and non-clinical teams. Formal training for new members of the frontline team, especially those without a clinical background, could include: assessing/interpreting symptoms, managing diary pressures and dealing with patient expectations/conflict.
Conclusions Receptionists and practice managers have an important role to play in unscheduled dental care. Improved training to undertake this role should help ensure the safety of patients with acute dental problems whilst also optimising the efficient day-to-day running of the practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-107
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Dental Journal
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2020


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