Evaluating a Dental Diagnostic Terminology in an Electronic Health Record

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This is a critical review of a published article in PubMed titled "Evaluating a dental diagnostic terminology in an electronic health record."


Diagnostic codes are routinely used in medicine. However, the codes are limited in dentistry and is not satisfactorily standardized even though there has been much advances made to include diagnostic codes and terms as part of a patient's electronic health record.[1]


The authors used a list of diagnostic "Z codes" which were developed by the faculty of the selected dental school and loaded into the electronic health record (EHR) system at UCSF. All the codes entered from July 2007 to June 2008 were analyzed, and correct entries were chosen. The authors calibrated the validity of the entries and diagnosis-to-procedure associations from the 115,004 procedures done in pre-clinics.


The highest validity was shown to be in periodontal diagnosis to procedure combination followed by removable prosthetics and restorative dentistry. The lowest valid resulted in orthodontics which was attributed to the lowest number of procedures performed. The overall results showed that 76.7 per cent of the diagnoses made were valid utilization codes.


The authors showed the successful utilization of diagnostic codes and terms in an electronic health record in addition to developing and implementing these very codes and terms in a dental setting.


The authors explored the utilization of diagnostic codes in a dental school that was developed by their dental faculty and analyzed the use and correctness of the entries. The study showed that even though the elective use of codes were low the utilized codes were highly validated. This study confirmed the need for improving user interface and training dental care professionals with implementation of improved and efficient codes and terms in dental practice.

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  1. Evaluating a Dental Diagnostic Terminology in an Electronic Health Record. http://www.jdentaled.org/content/75/5/605.long