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clinical record keeping policy

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This policy sets out the principles that hygeia dental care applies in the compilation and management of clinical records.

general principles

Patients’ clinical records must:

  • Be contemporaneous and dated (NB records made using the clinical software “Exact” are automatically dated by the system).
  • Record, as soon as practicable, relevant verbal communications with patients about their care and treatment.
  • Be clear, factual, accurate and comprehensive.
  • Be signed by the dentist or other practitioner, such as a hygienist or therapist.  Our records are kept using the Exact software system.  The software itself keeps a record of the person who has added or edited the notes, though we have now started adding details of the individual who made/charted a note (new as from September 2016).
  • Where not made on computer, be neat, legible and written in ink.
  • Be confined to that which is strictly necessary.
  • Not be derogatory.
  • Maintain patients’ dignity.
  • Be such that disclosure (refer to Confidentiality Policy and Data Protection Policy) would not be problematic.

security, confidentiality and data protection

Refer to the separate, detailed practice policies: Data Security Policy, Confidentiality Policy and Data Protection Policy.

dental imaging

At hygeia we believe that use of dental imaging, ie digital x-rays and digital intra-oral camera pictures, is an essential part of good record keeping and vital in communicating treatment needs and outcomes to patients.  We will routinely:

  • Take intra-oral camera images of areas of concern within the patient’s mouth.
  • Take periapical and bitewing x-rays in accordance with the FGDP’s criteria for selection in dental radiography (refer to our local rules).
  • SHOW THESE TO THE PATIENT so that they may more readily understand proposed treatments and give informed consent while also seeing for themselves the treatment outcomes.  Both x-ray and intra-oral camera systems are digital allowing the instantaneous capture of images which can be shown to the patient immediately.  A screen is positioned in the dentist’s surgery to allow the patient to easily view the images while discussing them with the dentist.
  • Review previously captured images and x-rays prior to the start of each patient appointment.

Images are stored using the Vixwin dental imaging software and are directly linked to the patient’s records within the Exact patient database to facilitate fast retrieval of stored pictures for review.  The system keeps a record not only of which patient the images relate to, but also the date and time that the images were captured/taken.

standard abbreviations used in clinical record keeping

+, ++, +++ – Indicates an incremental scale, eg Pain+ means bad pain; Pain++ means very bad pain; Pain+++ means severe pain (can also be used in other contexts, such as to describe swelling, decay, bleeding, pus)

# – Broken or fractured

10 or 1* – Primary

20 or 2* – Secondary

ANK – Appointment not kept

ANUG – Acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis

Apt or Appt – Appointment

B – Buccal

BC – Buccal cusp

BOP – Bleeding on probing

BPE – Basic Periodontal Examination

BW – Bitewing x-ray

C/O – Complain of (pain, broken tooth, etc) – basically, a patient requesting an urgent appointment

Ca(OH)2 – Calcium hydroxide

Calc – Calculus

Cart(s) – Cartridge(s)

CBCT – Cone beam computed tomography (a type of x-ray)

Comp. – Composite filling

CPITN – Community Periodontal Index of Treatment Need

CV – Cardiovascular

DBC – Disto-buccal cusp

DL – Diagnostic length

DNA – Did not attend

EDTA – Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid

Endo – Endodontic treatment (RCT)

ETB – Electric toothbrush

EX – Extraction

EX15 – Routine examination

EXNP – Examination for a new patient

Expl – Explained

F/F – Full upper and full lower dentures

F/- – Full upper denture

-/F – Full lower denture

FTA – Failed to attend

FTP – Fluoride toothpaste

GP – Gutta percha

HSMW – Hot salty mouth wash

I – Incisal

Imps. – Dental impressions

IO – Intra oral

L – Lingual

LA – Local anaesthetic

LHS – Left-hand side

LL – Lower left

LR – Lower right

M – Mesial

MBC – Mesio-buccal cusp

MDD – Medical Devices Directive

MH – Medical history

MTA – Mineral Trioxide Aggregate

NAD – No abnormalities detected

NHS – National Health Service

NP – New patient

NRMH – No relevant medical history

NTR – Nothing to report

O – Occlusal

OD – Overdenture

OH – Oral hygeine

OHI – Oral hygiene instruction

OPG – Orthopantomogram (panoramic x-ray)

OPT – Orthopantomogram (panoramic x-ray)

P – Palatal

P/- – Partial upper denture

-/P – Partial lower denture

PA – Periapical (usually in reference to an x-ray “film” or radiolucent area on an x-ray image)

PC – Palatal cusp

PE – Partially erupted

PFM – Porcelain fused to metal

POP – Pus on probing

Post-op – Post-operative

PP – Private patient

PPT – Prophylactic periodontal therapy

Pre-op – Pre-operative

Prep. – Preparation (eg for crown, bridge, inlay, etc)

Pt – Patient

Q – Quadrant

RCT – Root canal treatment/therapy

Rec – Recommended

RHS – Right-hand side

RIA – Recall interval assessment

RSD – Root surface debridement

Rx – Treatment

S&P – Scale and Polish

Script – Prescription

Sec – Secondary

SPT – Supportive periodontal therapy

SRP – Scaling and root planing

ST – Soft tissues

STB – Single tufted brush

Sub – Sub-gingival; below

Surg. – Surgical procedure (usually extraction)

TB – Toothbrush

TBI – Tooth brushing instruction

TCA – To come again

Temp. – Temporary

TMJ – Temperomandibular joint

TTP – Tender to percussion

UL – Upper left

UR – Upper right

W – Watch

WL – Working length

recording diagnosis and planned treatment

Whenever the dentist diagnoses damage, decay, gum disease or another problem that indicates a need for treatment to be performed, this is recorded immediately using the Exact computer software.  The need for treatment is recorded by adding an item of “planned treatment” to the patient chart.  The computer system makes and retains a record of the date that the planned treatment was “charted” and by whom (even after the treatment has been completed and marked as such).  We also make a separate record of the fact of diagnosis and the date that it was arrived at (see codes EXNP – new patient examination – and EX15 – regular examination).

Reasons for the diagnosis can be recorded by the dentist editing items of “planned treatment” to indicate why the need for treatment was identified, though we frequently use dedicated, separate codes to record symptoms, diagnosis and consent (eg see “Fillings” or “Crowns” codes).

A link to the image database also allows easy access to contemporaneous intra-oral camera images and x-ray results, further reinforcing the reasons for diagnosis.  The dentist must explain their findings to the patient and agree which treatment is to be carried out in consultation with the patient.  X-ray findings (reports) are written up as a matter of course for every image taken.  Notes relating to what is shown on intra-oral photographs are only made where this is necessary, though the fact that photographs have been taken is recorded in the notes.

Patients are provided with a written treatment plan confirming the treatment that is proposed (or where they have decided not to proceed with all proposed treatment, confirming treatment that has been agreed).  This may be handed to them at the appointment when the treatment was discussed or, more usually, sent to them afterwards.  The treatment plan is accompanied by information leaflets relating to the proposed treatments (where these are available).

recording consent, refusal and patient’s wishes

Records should provide a synopsis of discussions with a patient that lead to them giving consent – eg records of symptoms, results of tests, a formal diagnosis and the treatment options considered (including any relevant risks and benefits), etc. It is not necessary to obtain a patient signature to evidence that they consented to dental treatment.  Written evidence of consent is only a legal requirement in particular circumstances, such as where treatment is to be carried out under GA or sedation – we do not provide these services.

Where a patient declines to follow a recommended course of action, particularly where this may have an adverse impact on outcomes (eg refusal of RCT/extraction when there is a severe infection), this must be recorded in the patient notes.

We always aim to respect patient choices and preferences, but where a patient’s preferred treatment cannot be provided, the reasons should be explained and this should be recorded in the patient notes.

daily record keeping checks

To maintain record-keeping standards, we carry out daily checks of our record-keeping using a specially designed pro-forma: see Daily Clinical Records Checking Form, version 8, Hygeia Document Database.  These checks allow us to ensure that all records are complete at the end of each session.

Items checked include, but are not limited to, patient details, medical histories, medical & infection alerts, sending of “welcome to the practice” letters & emails, prescribing, recall interval assessment, intra-oral photographs, radiographs, caries risk & assessment of appropriate x-ray interval, setting of recall dates, dental charting, soft tissue checks, recording of symptoms, diagnosis & consent, local aneasthesia, laboratory made items, telephone calls, referrals, periodontal charting and the provision of treatment plans & treatment information leaflets.

monthly record keeping audits

To maintain record-keeping standards, the practice also carries out monthly audits of record-keeping.  The results are considered by Joanne Giddy and Neil Phillips and any necessary changes are agreed and implemented as a result.

25 records are audited each time.  The audit checks for 94 different items of record-keeping on each record audited.  For full information, refer to “Patient records audit – data capture pro forma – version 4” in the Hygeia Document Database.

Web version 7: 8.11.2016
Previous web version: 1.2.2011 (reviewed 25.1.2012); 17.1.2013; 13.3.2013 (reviewed 19.6.2014; 5.6.2015);  4.8.2016; 1.10.2016; 26.10.2016

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