A Qualitative Investigation of the Content of Dental Paper-based and Computer-based Patient Record Formats

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This is a critical review of a published article in PubMed.


The authors reported that only 25 % of the dentists use computers in the clinical environment compared to usage of computers in their office for billing and administration purposes. And only 1.8 % had complete computer based patient records (CPR). This shows that paper based patient records are still being used by many dentists and dentists are having difficulty on complete transformation to electronic health records.[1]

The purpose of this study by the authors was to create a model that had clinical information of paper based patient records, in order to compare their coverage to computer based patient records (CPRs).


The authors' use of a baseline dental record (BDR) made it easier to compare clinical content in paper based records to that information entered in computer based systems. Their intention was to compare the developed BDR with four vendors namely EagleSoft, Dentrix, PracticeWorks and Softdent, to analyze if data entered were correct in the specified fields across records.The calculations were done based on BDR categories and data fields entered, and information were cross mapped in the same way.


The impression from the methods used to study the baseline dental record showed inconsistency across paper based records. The diagnostic category was absent across both paper and computer based records. The data fields and names of category which were present in paper were not present in computer based records which were additional inconsistencies revealed by this study.


Due to the inconsistencies in content found on paper records and missing clinical information in CPRs, there needs to be specifications given by the American Dental Association (ADA) that can be followed to develop or design more consistent and standard dental databases.


The need for consistency across patient's dental record is necessary and should be a requirement in order to practice and provide responsible dental care services to patients. Inconsistencies in data fields and categories relate to confusion and delayed, inaccurate and missed dental care.


  1. A Qualitative Investigation of the Content of Dental Paper-based and Computer-based Patient Record Formats. http://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ezproxyhost.library.tmc.edu/pmc/articles/PMC2244908/