Marquette University News Release

Marquette researcher receives NIH grant to study the use of emergency departments for dental care

November 30, 2010

MILWAUKEE — Christopher Okunseri, associate professor of dental public health in the Marquette University School of Dentistry, has been awarded more than $300,000 from the National Institutes of Health to study treatments provided to patients with non-traumatic dental conditions within hospital emergency departments in the United States. Non-traumatic dental conditions are those not deemed critical or serious enough to be managed in hospital emergency departments, such as cavities or bleeding gums.

“Policymakers and researchers are paying increased attention to the use of emergency departments for the delivery of primary care because of the continuous increase in national healthcare costs,” Okunseri said. “Just as with non-traumatic medical visits to emergency departments, dental visits to ERs can present significant cost, practice and programming implications and may contribute to emergency room overcrowding.”

According to Okunseri, not enough is known about what treatments are being provided to patients across different demographics. His study aims to more fully explore which medications are being prescribed in emergency departments nationwide for non-traumatic dental conditions and to more accurately identify the population groups that are seeking dental care in emergency departments. He will also examine whether racial and ethnic disparities exist in prescribing practices.

Okunseri says the findings will be important to public health professionals and policymakers and would help to develop appropriate national medication guidelines for non-traumatic dental conditions visits to emergency departments.

Media interested in interviewing Okunseri should contact Christopher Stolarski in the Office of Marketing and Communication at (414) 288-1988 or christopher.stolarski@marquette.edu.

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