CATs: Your new favorite pet!

As a proud graduate of the Dental School at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, Texas, I am delighted to see how it has continued to grow into such an innovative comprehensive center.

In my opinion, one of the best things the Dental School does is require their students participate in review of research.  Have you heard of the CATs library? CATs is an acronym for “Critically Appraised Topics” and is the brainchild of a long time faculty member at the Dental School, Dr. John Rugh.The CATs library is created by students who research the literature on a topic and write a single page report on a clinical question and submit it for publication in the online library.  Can you believe it?  A single page!

The categories of the CATs library are:

  • Public Health
  • Oral Medicine/Pathology/Radiology
  • Endodontics
  • General Dentistry
  • Oral Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Pediatric Dentistry
  • Periodontics
  • Prosthodontics
  • Restorative Dentistry
  • Basic Science
  • Dental Hygiene
  • Behavioral Science

There are hundreds of topics covered and the efficient organization make for rapid inquiry and satisfaction.  As the reader scans for topics of interest one is drawn to issues encountered during patient care.  Reading them will make you more and more updated on clinical matters.  I consider them the Readers Digest (with science links) of dental literature.

Here are a few ideas about how they can immediately help:

The Case of Unnecessary Antibiotics:  A patient you are treating requires a root canal for the treatment of an irreversible pulpitis. The patient needs to wait to begin because of an insurance matter and requests pain medication and an antibiotic. After explaining that in the absence of acute infection an antibiotic is not indicated the patient still insists that you prescribe an antibiotic. You decline to write the prescription. A CATs report that addresses this issue can be quite handy to explain to the patient why an antibiotic is not recommended. It helps supports your clinical decision.

The Case of the Questionable Aspirin:  Your patient requires oral surgery and takes aspirin.  It has been some time since you have encountered this and you want to review the literature regarding the advisability of continuing or discontinuing the aspirin before the surgery.  Simply reviewing this CATs report will remind you of the associated research to help you with your clinical decision making.

The Case of the Glass Ionomer Cement:  You have found that patients are reporting sensitivity after crown cementation with a glass ionomer cement you have started using in an attempt to reduce secondary caries.  A CATs paper addresses this and it was easy to get information quickly.

CATs are an innovative new way to connect dentists in the field with accessible content that addresses real issues we face. They are reliable because they are researched under the direction of some of the best minds in dentistry. One of my hobbies (if you can call it that) is thinking about how these sorts of new resources can be incorporated into modern software delivery systems. Wouldn’t it be nice if these reports were presented or incorporated into your patient record?

I think the answer to this is absolutely yes. In fact, Dental Symphony’s ePatient has embedded this information into the clinical library. CATs can be linked directly to particular patients’ libraries or be saved for quick access. Innovative ways to incorporate quality data analysis to help us make evidence-based decisions is the wave of the future, and Dental Symphony is excited to be at forefront of this endeavor.


Interested in how Dental Symphony can give you access to the CAT’s library? Request a free demo today!

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