In dental hygiene, as with any medical pursuit, making notes is an essential part of the job. Think back to any of your hygienist visits in the past. The chances are that the hygienist made all manner of notes, both about medical history and treatments.
When you start practicing, though, it’s easy to assume that notes don’t matter. You have a lot going on as it is, without having to worry about jotting everything down, right? You may even get into the bad habit of not making notes until the evening. All the better for giving patients your full attention when you’re there.
In reality, this is a grave mistake which could land you in hot water. The fact is that medical practitioners don’t make notes as they go for fun. Adequate note-taking habits actually serve a few essential purposes. If you aren’t sure what they are as it stands, keep reading to find out. Then, start taking notes, for goodness sake!
Perhaps most important of all is the protection your notes offer you. When you write treatments and so forth down, you’re effectively making a record of everything you do. This can be useful if your patient experiences issues or decides to bring a medical malpractice suit against you with the help of attorneys like Nathan Hughey. This may send fear into your heart, but it’s a reality that most medical practitioners face at some stage. This won’t be an issue for you if you can provide notes to prove the treatment you offered, and the condition of the patient when they left your surgery. If, however, your records are patchy or non-existent, a patient can level all manner of accusations at you, and you’ll have no way to defend yourself.
At the very least, your notes here can serve as your memory. When you see a lot of patients, there’s no way you can remember each one in detail. You may remember faces or certain personalities, but most of your clients will blur into one. This can both look unprofessional and slow you down. If you have to go over every detail of someone’s history whenever they come to you, you’re going to waste a considerable amount of time. Being able to reach for notes could see you remembering past treatment and medical history in seconds.
Notes are also a fantastic way to track a patient’s progress. This could, again, save you from legal proceedings. As well as performing hygienist duties, you need to track things like periodontal disease. Failure to do so means even your notes won’t save you from malpractice proceedings. Yet, the only real way to achieve this is to track a patient’s teeth over time. And, that’s exactly what your notes allow you to do. By taking detailed notes about the condition of teeth and gums, you’ll be able to see straight away if anything changes over time. That alone could see you making the right diagnosis every single time.