Making good decisions

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Dr Mark Hassed

As dentists we want to do our very best for patients. We want to make good diagnostic decisions and do sound treatment.

Here’s a suggestion to help with decision making and treating patients: Develop a set of algorithms.

What’s an algorithm?

An algorithm is a rule or set of rules that we use in decision making or problem solving.

Examples of dental algorithms might be:

If a tooth has kept the patient awake at night then it has irreversible pulpitis.

Or

Never extract a tooth for which you don’t have a current periapical x-ray.

I don’t want to go too far with suggesting algorithms because then I will be getting into clinical controversies.

But, what I do want to suggest is this: Develop a set of algorithms that make good clinical sense to you and then stick to them.

If you do that you should find two things will happen.

Firstly, the quality and consistency of your treatment will improve. Secondly, you will have less to worry about because many decisions will become automatic.

Good luck with this.

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