Accident Highlights Need for Drug Precautions


An experience with one of my patients made me realize that as dentists, we could take extra precautions when prescribing lorazepam (marketed as Ativan).

My patient came to me to discuss a car accident in which she was involved. At first, I thought she needed an accident report for her insurance. But I was shocked to find out that she was more concerned about saving other lives. It turns out that the person who caused the accident (and subsequently died) had taken Ativan for dental surgery at a specialist’s office. When leaving the dental office, the deceased had said that someone was driving her home. Although we didn’t have all the details of the accident, both my patient and I wondered if there was anything more our profession could do to help prevent this type of accident in the future.

After thinking more about the incident, I thought we could add a note to our prescriptions, clearly advising that patients must not drive after taking Ativan. My local drugstore is now applying stickers on prescription bottles that say: “Someone must drive you to and from your dental appointment!”

Perhaps if other colleagues would write something similar on their prescriptions, other pharmacies will place more explicit warnings on pill bottles. Even if one life is saved, my patient will know she did the right thing by telling me about her experience.


Dr. Diane Liscumb
Quispamsis, New Brunswick