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Clinic Policy Manual

Dental Emergency Care

Subject:   Dental Emergency Care
Effective Date: June 1989
Revision Dates:  
October 2008, January 2016


To provide a mechanism for the provision of urgent care for dental patients at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

General Policy

The School of Dentistry provides urgent dental care throughout the year to individuals whether or not they are patients of record of the school. Service is provided throughout the workweek during regular clinic hours. After hours, individuals who are not patients of record are to be referred to the King County Dental Society.  During normal clinic operating hours, active School patients are to be referred to their assigned students who will manage their emergent dental care.  After hours, School patients will be referred to the UWMC Emergency Department.


I. Source of Emergency Referrals

Patients might contact any department for emergency treatment.  It is essential that staff in each department know the protocol for referring an emergency patient when contacted.  The staff member should direct all patients to call the Dental Urgent Care Clinic for service at 206-543-5850 unless the nature of the emergency dictates that the patient should be treated in the department which has been contacted (i.e. oral surgery, pediatric dentistry, endodontics).

II. Emergencies Occurring During the Quarter

A. Inactive Patients

Patients who are not patients of record, or are awaiting assignment within the patient care system of the School of Dentistry (“new patients”) are referred to the Dental  Urgent Care Clinic during business hours.  After hours, patients of record who are unassigned will be referred to the UWMC emergency department. Patients who are not  patients of record shall be referred to Seattle-King County Dental Society after hours.

Inactive patients who have an emergency related to recent treatment will be referred to the department in which such care was provided (e.g., tooth sensitivity following placement of a crown refer to Restorative Dentistry).  Other emergencies shall be referred to Dental Urgent Care which will either triage them and make the appropriate referral, or render appropriate care.

B. Active Patients

  1. Patients assigned to a student will be managed by that student. Emergent care has priority over routine care, therefore emergency patients shall be scheduled before routine care patients in appropriate clinics not referred to Dental Urgent Care.  In the event that the student is unavailable to provide care due to personal illness, family emergency, or block assignment[1], the patient should be referred to the appropriate department to care for the emergency.  For example, a known restorative problem should be referred to the Department of Restorative Dentistry.  In the event that the nature of the patient’s emergency needs cannot be determined then the patient should be referred to the Dental Urgent Care Clinic.  Students are to arrange for emergency care for their assigned patients by other students prior to participation in an extramural assignment.
  1. Patients assigned to a specific department will have their emergent care needs managed by that department. If the patient’s emergent care needs are beyond the scope of the assigned department then the patient is to be referred to the appropriate department for treatment.  Interdepartmental emergency consultations will be made available in each department.
  1. Outside regular clinic hours: The patient should call the assigned student.  In each discipline the student will have a back-up faculty member, assigned by the department, who is on-call.  The student will either call this faculty member or the faculty member who supervised the care of the patient.

The faculty member will determine the seriousness of the situation.  If the faculty member decides that the patient has to be seen immediately, the student will notify the patient to go to the UWMC Emergency Department. Usual charges will apply.

[1]A block assignment is defined as a scheduled clinical activity in which patients are provided for students by the supervisor of the block.  The block may be either intramural or extramural in nature.

Dean of UW SOD:

Joel Berg, Dean of the UW School of Dentistry

February 2, 2016