Question: How do you handle lab cases in your office?

ANSWER: It’s always a good idea to have the doctor review the lab cases when they come into the office in case he finds something he wants to change, then you have time to reschedule the patient if necessary.

The problem with most practices is that there is no set protocol or best practices in place and no one person responsible managing and documenting lab cases as the cases go out to the lab and return to the practice.
[mepr-show if=”loggedout”]Members only resources[/mepr-show] [mepr-active memberships=”629,630,37388,37393,37672,37676,37670,37668,37674,44674,232156″ ifallowed=”show” unauth=”message” unauth_message=”Answer hidden, please login or purchase a membership to view.”] Below are a few ideas you can implement to help:

  1. Utilize your dental practice management software – Most if not all software programs have the ability to track lab cases as they leave and return to the office. This is the simplest way to track but just the first step.
  2. Document, Document, Document! – The dental assistant should be responsible for documenting the lab case from preparation, writing up the lab slip, packing for delivery, all the way to reaching out to the lab for delivery date and make copious notes in the patient’s chart. The front desk coordinator or other designated front office team member should be responsible for entering the lab case into the practice management software in the patient’s record, including those leave and return dates. The front desk is also responsible for scheduling the patient’s follow-up appointment and allowing the correct amount of time to process the case.
  3. Responsibility – As mentioned above with documentation, it is extremely important to have two people assigned to monitor these cases so that if by chance one of them is out or there is a question they have the other one as fall back. Their responsibilities can vary as every practice has different ways of handling tasks in the office but as long as all of these are covered you shouldn’t lose track of cases.
  4. Check cases days in advance – Have one of them also check the cases days before the patient is scheduled in case there are any issues that would involve rescheduling the patient. You should be able to review the schedule or print out a list of cases that are due from your software if entered correctly and being well prepared in advance will allow the case to be tracked down and resolve any issues before the patient is involved. Another time to make sure if the lab case is in is before confirmation calls. If for some reason it wasn’t in days in advance or was overlooked, prior to making the confirmation call, double check that the case is in.
  5. Plan B – If a patient arrives for their appointment and for some reason the above protocol wasn’t followed and you realize the case is not at the office. Don’t panic – especially in front of the patient. If a patient sees that you are not confident and in charge of the situation, you could upset the patient for no reason and possibly lose their trust in your office.

If there is a screw-up, I also think you need to go back and see where the ball got dropped. Was there a step that fell out? Did someone drop the ball? This is not necessarily to find blame but to learn from the mistake, possibly get the system fixed or the person trained so it does not happen again.[/mepr-active]