With millions of patients visiting thousands of dental practitioners each year, complications and Adverse Events (AE) can occur. Identifying the adverse events that most commonly affect patients is a first step in preventing them. NIH is providing $3.9 million in grants to fund a Dental Adverse-Event Database.
Muhammad Walji, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Informatics at the University of Texas Science Center Houston, School of Dentistry along with colleagues at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine are leading the new project. Other schools taking part in the project include University of California at San Francisco, and Oregon Health and Science University, as well as a group of dental providers throughout the country. The objective is to better understand and document patient safety issues by mining millions of electronic dental patient records to build the database.
The project’s aim is to create a framework for classifying and documenting adverse events but also to build a searchable data repository for such events. Having such a database will enable researchers to pinpoint incident patterns, identify underlying causes, and improve patient safety.
In the September 2012 issue of the “Journal of the American Dental Association, Walji and others co-authored a guest editorial calling for dentistry to undertake a comprehensive initiative to improve patient safety by collecting data on the most pressing safety risks.
To begin the process to develop EHRs for the dentists, last November, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine hosted a conference to explore the importance of standardization in dental diagnosis and the need for a diagnostic terminology in dentistry referred to as EZCodes terminology.
By using dental diagnostic terminology this can empower clinicians to document types and frequency of conditions as they are encountered, enhances communication among clinicians, and makes it possible to track and share data across sites. So far, the EZCodes terminology has been adopted by fifteen dental schools and numerous nonacademic institutions in the U.S. and Europe.
Dental schools and private practitioners are giving researchers access to potentially millions of dental records. The first step for the team is to devise a working definition of adverse events and criteria for which incidents qualify. These incidents would include those that are considered as unforeseen complications caused by treatment.
Patients making multiple visits in a short period will electronically flag patient records that are most likely to contain adverse events. Identifying information will be scrubbed so that patient privacy is not compromised.