Here’s a question that I am often asked as a trainer and Profitability coach: Do I really need to close the month in Dentrix?

The primary purpose of maintaining dental records is to document the delivery of quality patient care and follow-up. It is a legal record that details the history of the diagnosis, treatment, illness, physical examination, and financial management of a patient. It is also used in the event of a malpractice situation.

Therefore, entries must be accurate, factual, clear, and organized. We must carefully correct all mistakes or omissions. The same holds true for the Patient Chart. When using paper documentation, there are specific guidelines to follow when making changes to paper charts: corrections cannot be done with “white-out”, lines should be drawn through incorrect info, all entries should be signed and dated, and there should be no extra lines in the script.

Dentrix is a legal document, and the Ledger is a financial record. The record should follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) which require that posting errors be corrected using adjustments. Moreover, a dental practice’s records may be used in a court of law in connection with the prosecution and/or defense of malpractice claims or other civil lawsuits. As a result, certain “best practices” should be considered in connection with the maintenance of patient records.

The temptation to keep months open to edit transitions is convenient. However, we must be cognizant of the legal ramifications should you need to produce those documents.

The Close Transactions task in the Dentrix Reports and Tasks Scheduler, is a management tool designed to completely close and lock critical data into history. By closing the months into history, Dentrix locks out changes being made to edit transactions. To solve any discrepancies in a patient’s Chart, Dentrix allows you to invalidate procedures to remove them from the Patient Chart while leaving them in the Ledger. In this way, you are able to keep a patient’s chart accurate and up-to-date.

Consult with your malpractice insurance provider for information on your state’s requirements for legal documentation.

For additional information, read the Schedule Routine Tasks and Reports to Run Automatically article in the Dentrix Magazine online archive.