IDEXX Cornerstone Software

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Can’t update an appointment? The culprit could be a special character

Ever been unable to delete, save or update an appointment? Or you couldn’t transfer a PVL to an invoice? The culprit could be an innocent-looking *, #, or & typed into the appointment notes or an item ID. There are dozens of special characters that don’t play well with Windows-based software like Cornerstone. Here’s a list of the character you should avoid, as well as some of the problems you can prevent by not using them. 

The three special characters that are ok to use 

A special character is any keyboard character that is non-alphabetic or non-numeric, such as punctuation marks. 

For client or patient names, only three special characters are ok to use:

  • Hyphens, aka the dash: – 
  • Apostrophes: ‘ 
  • Ampersands: &

For staff IDs only one character is ok to use: the hyphen (-). For those of you that manually create patient IDs based on the client ID, this is good news.

Please don’t use these special characters

Because of Cornerstone is a Windows-based system, and client / patient names and IDs can be used to create files in the database, it’s extremely important to follow Window’s rules for file naming conventions and directories. To avoid issues, these 27 characters should never be used in either ID or name fields:

  1.     < (less than) 
  2.     > (greater than) 
  3.     : (colon) 
  4.     ; (semi colon)
  5.     “ (double quote) 
  6.     / (forward slash) 
  7.     \ (backslash) 
  8.     | (vertical bar or pipe) 
  9.     _ (underscore)
  10.     ? (question mark)  ID use causes blank comm window
  11.     * (asterisk) 
  12.     $ (dollar)
  13.     ^ (caret)
  14.     # (hash)  ID use causes blank comm window
  15.     % (percent)  ID use causes blank comm window
  16.     & (ampersand) ID use causes blank patient name in comm
  17.     + (plus)  ID use causes blank patient name in comm
  18.     = (equal)
  19.     @ (at symbol)
  20.     ! (exclamation mark)
  21.     ~ (tilde)
  22.     ` (acute or grave accent)
  23.     . (period)
  24.     , (comma)
  25.     (  ) (left or right parenthesis)
  26.     {  } (open or close brace or curly bracket)
  27.     {  } (open or closed bracket)
Other do’s and don’ts of special characters

 For staff IDs, it’s pretty simple: Stick to strictly alphanumeric characters without spaces for best policy. Using a hyphen within the ID is acceptable.

For client and patient names, there is a bit more leeway, but strictly alphanumeric is still ideal. Hyphens within the name field, as well as apostrophe (‘), ampersand (&) or plus (+) are acceptable. Commas should be ok (familial rank, professional designations in last name fields).