A 59-year-old patient who has been receiving oral health care at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry for the past year, is grateful dental student Brandon Churchman detected an irregular heartbeat during a routine blood pressure check.
Churchman, a third-year dental student, is also a certified physician’s assistant (PA) and paramedic (EMT-P). During the blood pressure check in July, Churchman told his patient, Jack Morris, about Morris’ irregular heartbeat before providing oral health care in the school’s 2 Green Clinic.
“This was the first time a health care provider told me that something wasn’t right,” Morris said. “I thought something wasn’t right for a couple of years. Brandon told me he suspected I had atrial fibrillation and that he would not be treating me that day.” Churchman walked with Morris to an electrocardiogram unit down a hallway to the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery.
“As dental students, a blood pressure check of each patient is a standard part of the care we provide. That helps us to identify any possible irregularities before we begin a treatment session,” Churchman said. “When I saw Mr. Morris’ reading, I knew right away that something wasn’t right. I was pretty sure it was A-fib.” An EKG confirmed what Churchman suspected. That day, Morris said he was admitted to the University of Michigan Hospital and was observed for two days prior to being discharged.
“I appreciate what Brandon did for me,” Morris said. “Because of his training, he confirmed what I had suspected all along – that something wasn’t right.”
Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is an irregular and sometimes rapid heartbeat which results in poor blood flow throughout the body. Sometimes patients with A-fib are unaware of their condition until it’s detected during an examination. Symptoms include heart palpitations, weakness and shortness of breath and, occasionally, a stroke. Sometimes emergency treatment is required.
Churchman said the education and training he received at the School of Dentistry were important. He said they built upon the skills and training he received as certified physician’s assistant and paramedic. “I am grateful to use that education and training I received to help Mr. Morris when he was here at the School of Dentistry,” Churchman said.
Posted October 16, 2015