Researchers found that timely and easy-to-use information from patients’ electronic medical records is often not available to dental professionals. Photo by Milenafoto/Wikimedia Commons
Rapid access to a patient’s medical records could help dentists provide better care, but that rarely happens, a new study finds.
“Oral health practitioners may need to confirm a list of medical considerations; for example, that there is no contraindication to a patient sitting in a chair for a lengthy procedure or whether a patient is taking any medication that could put them at risk for excessive bleeding during a tooth extraction or other procedure,” said study senior author Thankam Thyvalikakath. She is director of the Dental Informatics Program, Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Dentistry.
But the researchers found that timely and easy-to-use information from patients’ electronic medical records is often not available to dental professionals such as general dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists, prosthodontists, endodontists or hygienists.
Requested patient medical information is typically faxed from a medical office to the dental office and is sometimes unreadable when it arrives. Faxed patient information typically arrived at a dental office seven to 10 days after being requested, but 30% took even longer, according to the study published recently in the journal Frontiers in Digital Health.
Thyvalikakath pointed out that in “this day and age of electronic data transmissions in banking, shopping and other commercial fields, should health professionals still be relying on inefficient, paper-based methods for sharing patient information?”
Medical information may be especially critical for advanced dental care in patients with chronic diseases such as HIV and the growing number of older adults who still have their natural teeth, the study authors noted in an institute news release.
The researchers found that medical information most often requested by dental offices to finalize treatment decisions and procedure timing were patient diabetes status and history of blood sugar levels.
This information helps dental care providers determine whether it’s safe to proceed with a treatment, predict the outcome of a surgical procedure, assess implant options and calculate gum disease risk, the study authors explained.
For example, if blood sugar numbers are high, there is a greater probability that an implant may fail.
You can find oral hygiene tips at the Academy of General Dentistry.
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