Is there a doctor in the house?

G. T. Chiodo, S. W. Tolle, C. Critchlow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The two cases presented deal with urgent situations experienced by persons unknown to the dentist in the area. It is likely that dentists, physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals will encounter persons in urgent need of medical attention in other venues. Certainly, it is possible for someone to experience an emergency in a ballpark, grocery store, church, or other public gathering. While these settings may not offer the advantage of a medical emergency kit, they do pose the same ethical requirement for those trained in medical management of urgent problems to step forward, identify themselves, and attempt to help the ill person. Fortunately, most non-air settings usually allow for contacting emergency medical help and prompt transport to hospitals. The public may never reach a general understanding of the extent to which doctors other than physicians are trained to handle medical emergencies. Similarly, when someone in a crowded theater yells, "Is there a doctor in the house?" he or she most likely is thinking about a physician. This does not mean that a dentist is excused from acting as a medically trained Good Samaritan. The ethical obligation of specific beneficence requires dentists to minister to the ill in medical emergencies unless a more qualified health care provider is present and identifies himself or herself. The ethical obligation of general beneficence requires dentists and other citizens to assist those in urgent circumstances whose needs do not call upon specialized knowledge or training. Fortunately, the law in this country is designed to protect those who do attempt to help those in need.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)228-232, 234, 236
JournalGeneral dentistry
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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