Indiana Policyholders: Notice to policyholders recently affected by severe weather. 

Smart Uses of Smart Phrases and Pre Populated Templates

Smart phrases are shortcuts, also known as auto text, dot phrases, etc., in Electronic Health Records (EHRs). The phrases were well-worded and can save time, but they can serious raise questions, including whether the action noted in the smart phrase was actually performed.

I recently reviewed a practice's records that revealed a consistent use of "Smart Phrases."

However, the question arose as to whether the actions referred to in the "smart phrases" were actually done. When a smart phrase stated that "all the previous radiology films were reviewed," but there were no patient-specific notes or treatment plan, the question arose as to whether the provider actually reviewed the films. In other words, did they perform the action noted in the smart phrase.

One smart phrase was even being used to document informed consent, stating "the risks, options, benefits and alternatives of the procedure were discussed including but not limited to bleeding, infection and potential death. The patient elects to proceed. Consent was signed prior to the procedure." In addition to whether the consent conversation was done, this statement also raises the question about whether the consent was actually "informed." Remember, there is a difference between "consent" and "informed consent."

The dentist is responsible for the information in the healthcare record. The documentation should always reflect the interaction with the patient.

A smart phrase can be used as a framework for the note; however, the phrase needs to be edited by the dentist to demonstrate it was patient-specific and visit-specific, and the actions indicated were taken.

Similar problems can arise with prepopulated templates. In one case, the gender of the patient varied in the prepopulated notes and between what was entered freehand. If a plaintiff attorney were to see this, they would no doubt question the validity of all the information in the chart.

Using prepopulated medication lists may save time, especially when most of the population is taking five or more prescription medications. However, since medication management is a leading cause of claims for most specialties, it is good practice to confirm the patient is taking the medication as prescribed. This way you can address any noncompliance or nonadherence issues.

A simple note after the review of the medication with the patient may help illustrate and validate the discussion and review. Remember the old adage, "If it is not documented, it did not happen."

As a policyholder, if you have questions about these risks, please contact us.

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