Guidance aims to standardise and improve coding for hospital dentistry specialties

Detailed guidance to help standardise and improve outpatient coding across four key hospital dentistry specialties – in turn driving ongoing improvements in patient care – is available from Getting It Right First Time (GIRFT), working in close collaboration with a range of royal colleges and specialist associations.

The new guides for outpatient activity coding cover orthodontics, paediatric dentistry, oral surgery and restorative dentistry, and aim to better capture consistent and accurate coded data for dental interventions, which can then be used for more meaningful comparison of activity across outpatient, day case and inpatient settings.

The guidance delivers on a recommendation in GIRFT’s national report for hospital dentistry (2021), which highlighted how poorly defined treatment codes made it difficult to identify variation in clinical outcomes. The report recommended a wider coding review to ensure accurate recording of treatment to measure outcomes, assure quality and support workforce planning and service improvement.

GIRFT formed working parties with the Faculty of Dental Surgery of the Royal College of Surgeons, as well as the British Orthodontic Society (including Consultant Orthodontist Group), British Society of Paediatric Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry UK, British Association of Oral Surgeons and the Association of British Academic Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons to look at the codes commonly used and to agree standardised and recommended OPCS-4 procedure codes.

The resulting guidance documents should be used by dentists and others involved with capturing OPCS-4 procedure codes for dental procedures in an outpatient setting, with the aim that the improved data will input into care quality metrics, support service design and visibility of activity, help understand rates of specialised care, and support future commissioning.

GIRFT’s 2021 national report was led by orthodontist Liz Jones, who visited 106 hospital dental departments and units as part of her review of services.

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