Rapid access oral health trial shows promise for ED patients

Dr Cindy Wang and Vanessa Hutchen from Redcliffe Dental Clinic were key players in an Emergency Department trial for oral health care.

Dr Cindy Wang and Vanessa Hutchen from Redcliffe Dental Clinic were key players in an Emergency Department trial for oral health care.

A year long trial of dental presentations to Emergency Departments (EDs) across Metro North Health has shown some promising outcomes while improving patient dental health in Caboolture and Redcliffe.

Metro North Oral Health Service Director of Governance and Innovation Dr David Carr said the Rapid Access Management of Dental Presentations to Emergency Departments trial looked at establishing a faster access pathway for patients presenting to EDs with dental conditions.

“We opened weekend dental clinics at Caboolture and Redcliffe Hospital with the aim of increasing the availability of the oral health services and ability to refer eligible patients,” Dr Carr said.

“The majority of referred patients from hospitals during the trial received a dental appointment on the same or next business day.

“The new pathway worked effectively at sites where the dental clinic and emergency department were co-located, like Caboolture and Redcliffe as these hospitals were among the highest presentation sites and referral sources.”

The year long trial, which was funded by Metro North Health under the SEED innovation program, began in July 2022, with weekend clinics starting in September 2022 and finishing in June 2023.

“As part of the clinical trial, staff from EDs would call the local clinic for clinical advice and appointments would be arranged for eligible patients during business hours Monday to Friday, or on the weekend mornings,” Dr Carr said.

“The project was expanded to include after-hours referrals when most of the presentations were occurring, with a referral process established and emergency appointments scheduled if eligible.”

Baseline data collected of Metro North Health ED presentations during the 2021/22 financial year showed that there was a number of eligible patients for public dental care from Caboolture Hospital (179), Redcliffe Hospital (99) and the RBWH (122).

“The number of eligible patients across our hospitals varied through the four quarters of the trial, however in the first quarter of the trial the Caboolture and Redcliffe Hospital patients exceeded major hospitals like The Prince Charles Hospital,” Dr Carr said.

“The eligible patients who received follow up care during the trial were for dental cavity or lesions (32 %), abscesses (28%), damage to the jaw (20%) and / or fractures (15%).

“Weekend clinics at Caboolture and Redcliffe accounted for about 49 percent per cent of all Metro North Health appointments, with 3.3 patients seen each day during the weekend.”

Planning is underway to look at the feasibility of delivering the rapid access referral pathway longer term.

2023-12-14T20:51:39+10:0016 January 2024|
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