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I replaced a large amalgam filling using an air turbine drill. My patient started coughing and then said that her throat felt very uncomfortable. I'm worried that she may have inhaled a piece of the old filling. What should I do?
As soon as you are aware that something may have gone wrong during treatment, you should take action to make sure the patient is not in immediate danger and is cared for until the issue is resolved. As soon as practicable, you should tell the patient what went wrong.
You should tell the patient that she may have inhaled a piece of the filling. If something has been inhaled it will need to be removed so an appropriate referral to hospital should be made for the necessary radiograph(s), other investigations and treatment. You should consider how the patient can get to the hospital and whether you need to arrange transport or call an ambulance.
Once the patient has been appropriately cared for, we suggest that you look into how it may have happened and what you could have done differently to prevent it from happening again.
We also recommend that you contact the patient soon after her hospital visit to check if she is well and to say sorry. If she makes a complaint to your practice, you should respond in line with the practice complaint procedure. You should acknowledge the complaint within three working days and aim to provide a full response within 10 working days.
This guidance was correct at publication . It is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.
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