Sunday, November 11, 2012

Can you do it in the dark?

     My office survived Hurricane Irene (although I was out of power for 1 week at home) but the Noreaster that followed took away our office power for 24 hours. I spent a lot of time during “Irene” wondering what I would do if the power went out at work, and I had the opportunity to find out when the lights went out last Wednesday. I can change 0-ring colors in the dark (actually by window light), determine which way a patient should wear elastics, evaluate if the key on an expander is turning properly, and even do a “new patient” clinical evaluation. Then it gets a little more complicated. I can cement a band if I clean the tooth first with a tooth brush (instead of a prophy angle), have the patient rinse out with a cup of water and dry the tooth with a cotton roll (instead of using the air-water syringe), and cure the cement with the charge in the blue-light (until the charge runs out.) I can’t adjust the angle on the dental chair, put on brackets, reshape
teeth or remove “glue” with a hand-piece, or view my electronic records.
     Lets face it, Electronic records are very convenient but only while the power is on. In my modern dental office the schedule, charting, x-rays, photos, models, and finances are all recorded electronically. I know many dentists who not only could not work while their power was out after Irene, but they also couldn’t cancel their patients because they didn’t have access to their schedules. Here is where I felt very lucky. Because I have a third party provider providing my patients access to their digital records- their scheduled appointments, their ledger sheets, and their digital images- I had access to my office schedule. My office data was backed up in Seattle, Washington, far away from the storms on the east coast. I simply called Sesame Communications for a list of my scheduled patients. They e-mailed each patient who was scheduled on Wednesday and Thursday to let them know to call and verify we had power before they came to their appointment. I called each patient to inform them that my office was without power. This way I was able to reach almost everyone before they left the house. I also keep duplicate patient records- I still keep a paper chart in addition to my digital chart- so I knew where I was in the treatment of each of the patients who chose to come in for the limited care that I could provide... “in the dark.”

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