How Often Should the Medical History Form Be Updated in a Dental Office

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December 22, 2020

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How Often Should the Medical History Form Be Updated in a Dental Office

Medical history forms are vital for keeping track of a patient’s medical conditions. As all dentists are aware, illnesses can significantly impact oral health.  Dentists should ensure that their patient’s medical history is updated appropriately. Typically, dental offices request patients to complete a new medical history form at least every year.

Read Also: What are 5 ways to Get More Patients in a Dental Office?

Some practices may request the form be filled out at each visit.  The question of how often to request an entirely new medical history form be completed, can largely depend on the patient’s health status, history, age and other criteria.

Variable Depending upon the Patient’s Health Status & Age

Senior citizens and patients who present with complex medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer, stroke, arthritis, etc,  should have their medical history forms updated more frequently than healthy patients free of medical issues.

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Updates to the medical history form do not always require filling out an entirely new form though. Each visit should include an update on the patient’s medical status, and can include providing a supplemental form or verbally asking the patient if their health status or medications have changed since the last exam.

Recording this information in the patient’s medical history is crucial to ensure proper documentation. Practitioners should always use sound clinical judgement in deciding on how frequently to have patients fill out a new medical history form. A general recommendation is to obtain a completed medical history form at least biannually from patients under age 50 and at each visit for patients over age 50. 

Benefits of Electronic Records & Forms

With the advent of electronic records and automated forms, updating a patient’s medical history form has become much simpler.  With automated forms that can be filled out at home prior to their dental visit, patients have easy access to a list of medications they may have recently started along with any new health updates they can scan or input. All this information can be requested from patients prior to each visit and is directly integrated into the dentist’s EMR system, making the entire process easier.

Conclusion

Medical history forms are crucial for understanding and keeping track of a patient’s medical status. Updating the medical history form annually, biannually or at each visit largely depends on a patient’s health status, history and age.

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Many practitioners shy from asking for medical history forms frequently because of the concern that patients would feel burdened with so much paperwork, but if done remotely, it's much easier for the patient. Embracing electronic forms and records simplifies the process of updating medical history information for both practitioners and patients.

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