Documentation and charting, while not typically the favorite pastime of doctors and hygienists, plays an important role in the office. Tija Hunter, a seasoned consultant, speaker, and author, shines a spotlight in the video above on that vital role centered around the creation of chart notes, prompting dental professionals to question not just the process but the legality and correctness of their documentation.

Legal Implications of Chart Notes

Hunter draws attention to the latent legal significance of chart notes, emphasizing that these seemingly routine documents can transform into crucial pieces of evidence in a court of law, often discovered too late for any corrections.

Addressing the common practice of dental assistants constructing chart notes, she poses a critical query, “Are they constructing the chart notes in a legal manner?”

The Risks of Delayed Documentation in Dentistry

A prevalent pitfall highlighted by Hunter is the delay in documenting patient interactions, a practice she humorously refers to as making the documentation “look a little sketchy.”

This delay, often attributed to the human tendency to forget details over time, can raise red flags about the accuracy and authenticity of the records – especially in a court of law. The solution? Same-day creation of chart notes on the day services are rendered.

The Importance of Prompt Review

The necessity for dentists to promptly review and sign off on chart notes is another key point in Hunter’s discourse. Waiting several days to endorse notes, as she warns, can create additional red flags, potentially compromising the legal integrity of the documentation.

Auto notes, a common and efficient tool in dental practices, also come under scrutiny in Hunter’s discussion. While acknowledging their utility, she advocates for periodic revisiting and updating to ensure they remain current and aligned with practitioners’ intentions.

Avoiding Slang and Internal Semantics

The potential pitfalls of using slang or internal office lingo in chart notes are highlighted by Hunter, with a reminder that such language can be detrimental in a legal context. She emphasizes the importance of using proper abbreviations and ensuring clear and comprehensive documentation. Stressing the point, Hunter says:

Basically, if a judge in a court of law, or the dental board can’t decipher what it is you’re trying to say. They’re going to throw it completely out, and you don’t want that. So you want to be sure that we’re using proper abbreviations.

The Significance of Comprehensive and Timely Charting

Hunter concludes her insightful discourse by stressing the need to document both complications and the absence of complications. Comprehensive and real-time charting, as she rightly suggests, can be the difference between a successful defense and potential liabilities in the face of legal challenges.

In the fast-paced world of dental practice, where time is a precious commodity, practitioners need efficient tools to streamline all office processes, freeing up the necessary time for vital tasks like documentation. 

At Weave, we provide an all-in-one solution that allows you to automate tedious tasks alongside other important processes like review management, patient scheduling, reminders, and more.

Get a demo of Weave’s services today to see how we can simplify everyday office tasks.

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Want to learn more about Tija Hunter? Check out her Bio here, or learn see more of her consultation and continuing education efforts on her site,