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Unit information: Human Disease in 2020/21

Unit name Human Disease
Unit code ORDS30008
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Academic Year (weeks 1 - 52)
Unit director Professor. Steve Thomas
Open unit status Not open




School/department Bristol Dental School
Faculty Faculty of Health Sciences


The Teaching Unit of Human Disease comprises 3 integrated elements:

  • Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Clinical Pathology and Microbiology

The Unit of Human Disease provides didactic and clinical teaching throughout year 3 of the BDS Programme in Clinical Medical Sciences and the majority of the teaching in this Unit is carried out by medical staff from the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Knowledge of the Clinical Medical Sciences forms the medical basis of the provision of dental care. The course is intended to provide students with sufficient knowledge to recognise problems in the medical history of patients about to undergo dental treatment and to take the appropriate action to provide high quality care.

An important aspect of the Unit is to ensure that graduate practitioners understand when referral for complex treatment is indicated. It is also to enable dental students to understand their role in the wider Health Care context.

The overall AIM of this unit is:

To integrate teaching and experience in General Medicine, General Surgery, Clinical Microbiology and Clinical Pathology to provide students with an understanding of the principles of these subjects as a prerequisite to the ‘whole patient care’ and health promotion approach of modern dentistry.


  • To understand the principle of obtaining a full history from a patient with a medical disorder presenting in any environment.
  • To outline the tests used to diagnose medical conditions and the different types of treatment available.
  • To highlight dentally relevant aspects of these conditions.
  • Carry out initial assessment and management of emergencies.
  • Be able to respond appropriately to emergency situations that might occur in dental practice.
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the basic medical sciences underlying general medical and surgical practice (2nd and 3rd BDS material).
  • Describe in a structured manner the clinical presentation of disease.
  • To continue to develop communication skills and learn how to elicit an appropriate and efficient medical history

Intended learning outcomes

1.2.1 Obtain, record & interpret comprehensive & contemporaneous patient history

1.2.2 Undertake appropriate systematic intra & extra-oral clinical examination

1.2.3 Manage appropriate clinical & laboratory investigations

1.2.4 Undertake relevant special investigations & diagnostic procedures including radiography

1.2.6 Discuss importance of each component of the patient assessment process

1.2.7 Identify where medicines may cause adverse effects in patients & initiate action to manage & report

1.4.1 Synthesise full results of the patient’s assessment & make clinical judgments as appropriate

1.4.2 Formulate differential diagnosis or diagnoses & from there a definitive diagnosis

1.5.1 Formulate appropriate treatment plan, synthesising patient assessment & diagnosis data

1.5.5 Refer patients for treatment or advice when & where appropriate

1.5.6 Critically evaluate the treatment planning process

1.7.1 Treat all patients with equality, respect & dignity

1.7.2 Identify, explain & manage the impact of medical and psychological conditions in the patient

1.7.3 Monitor & review treatment outcomes

1.7.5 Prevent, diagnose & manage pain appropriately, effectively & safely

1.7.6 Evaluate risks & benefits of treatment under general anaesthesia & make appropriate referrals

1.7.8 Safely & appropriately prescribe & administer medicines & therapeutic agents

1.7.9 Explain the role & organisation of referral networks, clinical guidelines & policies & local variation

1.7.10 Explain the need to take responsibility for establishing personal networks with local dental & medical colleagues, specialists & other relevant individuals & organisations

1.7.11 Critically evaluate all components of patient management

1.8.1 Identify & explain risks around clinical environment & manage these in a safe and efficient manner

1.8.2 Implement, perform & manage effective decontamination & infection control procedures according to current guidelines

1.8.6 Identify, assess & manage medical emergencies

1.8.7 Explain the importance of & maintain contemporaneous, complete & accurate patient records in accordance with legal requirements & best practice

1.10.1 Recognise responsibilities of the dental team as an access point to & from wider healthcare

1.12.1 Describe aetiology & pathogenesis of diseases of the oral & maxillofacial complex

1.12.3 Identify all stages of malignancy, aetiology & development of tumours & importance of early referral for investigation & biopsy

1.12.4 Identify & explain appropriately to patients the risks, benefits, complications & contra-indications to surgical interventions

1.12.5 Undertake pre-operative assessment, implement appropriate management techniques including referral, & carry out appropriate post-operative care

3.1 Communicate effectively & sensitively at all times with & about patients, their representatives & public

3.2 Recognise importance of non-verbal communication, including listening skills & barriers to effective communication

3.3 Explain & check patients understanding of treatments, options & costs to enable patients to make their choice & give valid consent

4.1 Communicate effectively with colleagues from dental & healthcare professions in patients best interests

5.1 Communicate effectively & sensitively by spoken, written and electronic methods & maintain & develop these skills

5.2 Use appropriate methods to provide accurate, clear & comprehensive information when referring patients to other dental & healthcare professionals

Teaching details

Teaching will use a blended learning approach delivered through a combination of synchronous and asynchronous activities. Students will be expected to engage with all learning.

A range of teaching are used in the unit including:

  • A programme of lectures
  • A two-week Clinical Attachment (Block Release). Year group divided between BRI, Southmead and Weston Hospitals. Rotation to Medical Admissions Unit and Medical Emergencies
  • Two Communication Sessions

Assessment Details

The assessment focuses on three subject areas comprising of:

1. Medicine

2. Surgery

3. Clinical Pathology/Microbiology

The Summative assessments are

1. 1.5 hour e-Assessment (50% of the unit total)

2. 2 x Clinical OSCE stations (50%) of the unit total)

Both assessments are considered separate must pass components (with a minimum of 50% pass mark in each) to progress. These two components are not cross compensated.

Reading and References

Human Disease in Dentistry Books

  • Greenwood, M. Essentials of Human Disease in Dentistry (Essentials (Dentistry)). 2nd ed. Wiley Blackwell; 2018. ISBN-10: 9781119251842 or ISBN-13: 978-1119251842
  • Essential Human Disease for Dentists – C Sproat, Churchill Livingstone, 2006. ISBN: 0702041718.
  • Human Disease for Dentistry – F Fortune, Oxford Univeristy Press, 2004. ISBN:0192631632.
  • Medical Problems in Dentistry – C Scully, Churchill-Livingstone, 2010. ISBN:0702030570.

General Medicine and Surgery Textbooks

  • Clinical Medicine – Kumar and Clark, Saunders, 2009. ISBN: 0702029939
  • Davidson’s Principles and Practice of Medicine – N Colledge, Churchill-Livingstone, 2010. ISBN: 0702030856
  • Medicine at a Glance – P Davey, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. ISBN: 140518616X
  • Surgery at a Glance – P Grace, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. ISBN:140518325X
  • Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine – M Longmore, Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN: 0199232172

Pathology, Microbiology and Pharmacology Textbooks

  • Essential Microbiology for Dentistry – L Samaranayake, Churchill-Livingstone, 2006. ISBN:0443100799
  • Medical Pharmacology at a Glance – M Neal, Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. ISBN:1405181974
  • Clinical Pathology – an Oxford Core Text – J Carton, Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 0198569467