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DENTAL PROCEDURE CHECKLIST DESIGNS
Pilot Safety Protocol, Crew Resource Management, Could Help Dentists Reduce Errors

Pilots and dentists have more in common than one might think: Both jobs are highly technical and require teamwork. Both are subject to human error where small, individual mistakes may lead to catastrophe if not addressed early.
 
A dental professor at the University of Michigan and two pilot-dentists believe that implementing a checklist of safety procedures in dental offices similar to procedures used in airlines would drastically reduce human errors. Crew Resource Management empowers team members to actively participate to enhance safety using forward thinking strategies, said Russell Taichman, U-M dentistry professor and director of the Scholars Program in Dental Leadership. Taichman co-authored the study, "Adaptation of airline crew resource management (CRM) principles to dentistry," which appeared in the August 16, 2010 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Airlines implemented CRM about 30 years ago after recognizing that most accidents resulted from human error, said co-author Harold Pinsky, a full-time airline pilot and practicing general dentist who did additional training at U-M dental school. "Using checklists makes for a safer, more standardized routine of dental surgery in my practice," said David Sarment, a third co-author on the paper. Studies show that CRM works. Six government studies of airlines using CRM suggest safety improvements as high as 46 percent. Another study involving six large corporate and military entities showed accidents decreased between 36-81 percent after implementing CRM. In surgical settings, use of checklists has reduced complications and deaths by 36 percent.
 
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