Strategies for Dealing with Lost Lab Cases

At some point throughout their careers, many dental assistants have found themselves in the unenviable position of discovering the dental lab case for a patient has gone missing. To make matters worse, and in accordance with Murphy’s Law, the missing lab case usually belongs to a patient that is scheduled for an appointment that day. This causes stress for the entire staff, as everyone looks bad when this happens.

Kyle Summerford, CEO and founder of Summerford Solutions has comprised a list of five suggestions to lower the probability of lost patient files, as well as ways to deal with the situation if it does happen…

  1. Understand office software – Dental offices will typically have some type of management software where patient lab cases can be recorded each time the patient visits the office.
  2. Designate a case coordinator – Too many hands on lab cases is one of the easiest ways to lose them. Designating the responsibility for handling of lab cases to one person can help reduce the chances that a case will end up missing. A dental office that has very high office volumes may need to assign an additional assistant when necessary.
  3. Documentation – Documentation duties should be divided between the dental assistant and the front office staff. The dental assistant should record all of the steps he or she does with the lab case from preparation to packaging to pick-up. The front desk staff member should update the management software with the information that the dental assistant recorded, as well as include appointment dates and follow-up scheduling.
  4. 4. Check appointments – Know which patients are due in the office over the coming days or weeks so that any issues with lost lab cases can be resolved long before the patient steps into the office.
  5. Have an emergency protocol – A backup plan should be constructed for instances when there is a missing lab case during a patient visit.