J Am Dent Assoc. 2022 Sep 1:S0002-8177(22)00433-0. doi: 10.1016/j.adaj.2022.07.007. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Obtaining thorough documentation of a patient’s medical history is important for dental care professionals, as oral health is connected intricately to systemic health. The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy of parent-reported health history for pediatric patients in a dental setting.
METHODS: A retrospective chart review was conducted on 863 patients 17 years and younger. Parent-reported health history was compared with subsequent physician-to-dentist consultations. The most common diagnoses were grouped on the basis of International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision, categories.
RESULTS: The sensitivity of parent report of health conditions was highest for reporting mental and behavioral disorders (75.1%; 95% CI, 69.6% to 80.0%), followed by nervous system diseases (63.0%; 95% CI, 47.5% to 76.8%), respiratory conditions (47.9%; 95% CI, 37.6% to 58.4%), congenital conditions (46.3%; 95% CI, 30.7% to 62.6%), and cardiovascular conditions (25.0%; 95% CI, 11.4% to 43.4%) and was lowest for hematologic conditions (12.2%; 95% CI, 4.1% to 26.2%). Parents of children 6 years and older and those with private insurance had higher sensitivity for reporting mental and behavioral conditions than those with children younger than 6 years or having Medicaid (P < .0001). The specificity of parent-reported health conditions ranged from 96.0% for mental and behavioral disorders to 99.8% for hematologic conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: Sensitivity varied widely, showing that parents may be unreliable in their report of children’s health histories and that dentists cannot rely solely on parents when obtaining health history.
PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: In advocating for patient safety, especially for those with special needs and complex medical conditions, this study supports the use of medical evaluation before dental treatment and for the integration of dental and electronic health records.