The dental triage method at Rothschild Hospital during the first lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic

PLoS One. 2023 Feb 8;18(2):e0281390. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0281390. eCollection 2023.


Objective: This study aims to (1) assess the efficacy of a face-to-face emergency protocol in children and adults and (2) measure the efficacies of prediagnosis at the triage level and clinical diagnosis at the emergency department level during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: A triage protocol was applied for patients at the entry of the Rothschild Hospital (AP-HP) between March 18th and May 11th, 2020. First, patients underwent a triage based on self-reported symptoms. If their condition was deemed urgent, they were oriented toward dental professionals, who performed an intraoral examination leading to a clinical diagnosis. Triage and diagnoses were categorized into four emergency groups: infectious, prosthetic, traumatic, and others. The agreement between triage and clinical diagnosis was tested (χ2 test). Positive predictive value (PPV), negative predictive value (NPV), sensitivity, and specificity for each diagnostic category were assessed to evaluate the performance and efficacy of the triage.

Results: Out of 1562 dental visits, 1064 were included in this analysis. The most frequently reported symptoms by children at triage were pain (31.5%) and trauma (22%). Adults mainly complained of abscesses (45.1%) and pulpitis (20.5%). The most frequent clinical diagnoses were abscesses (29.2%) and pulpitis (20.5%) among children and adults, respectively. Tooth extraction was the most frequent treatment modality. Systemic antibiotics were prescribed for 49.2% of patients. Regardless of the age class, the PPV was high for groups 1 to 3, ranging from 78.9% to 100%. The NPV was high in all groups, ranging from 68.8% to 99.1%.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates that the triage implanted during the first COVID-19 lockdown was effective and is an appropriate tool for the referral of adults and children before clinical examination.

MeSH terms

  • Abscess
  • Adult
  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Pulpitis*
  • Triage / methods

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.