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Finding 'Evidence of Absence' in Medical Notes: Using NLP for Clinical Inferencing.

Carter ME, Divita G, Redd A, Rubin MA, Samore MH, Gupta K, Trautner BW, Gundlapalli AV. Finding 'Evidence of Absence' in Medical Notes: Using NLP for Clinical Inferencing. Studies in health technology and informatics. 2016 Jan 1; 226:79-82.

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Extracting evidence of the absence of a target of interest from medical text can be useful in clinical inferencing. The purpose of our study was to develop a natural language processing (NLP) pipelineto identify the presence of indwelling urinary catheters from electronic medical notes to aid in detection of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI). Finding clear evidence that a patient does not have an indwelling urinary catheter is useful in making a determination regarding CAUTI. We developed a lexicon of seven core concepts to infer the absence of a urinary catheter. Of the 990,391 concepts extractedby NLP from a large corpus of 744,285 electronic medical notes from 5589 hospitalized patients, 63,516 were labeled as evidence of absence.Human review revealed three primary causes for false negatives. The lexicon and NLP pipeline were refined using this information, resulting in outputs with an acceptable false positive rate of 11%.

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