Objective - The goal of this study was to develop a practical framework for recognizing and disambiguating clinical abbreviations, thereby improving current clinical natural language processing (NLP) systems' capability to handle abbreviations in clinical narratives.
Methods - We developed an open-source framework for clinical abbreviation recognition and disambiguation (CARD) that leverages our previously developed methods, including: (1) machine learning based approaches to recognize abbreviations from a clinical corpus, (2) clustering-based semiautomated methods to generate possible senses of abbreviations, and (3) profile-based word sense disambiguation methods for clinical abbreviations. We applied CARD to clinical corpora from Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and generated 2 comprehensive sense inventories for abbreviations in discharge summaries and clinic visit notes. Furthermore, we developed a wrapper that integrates CARD with MetaMap, a widely used general clinical NLP system.
Results and Conclusion - CARD detected 27 317 and 107 303 distinct abbreviations from discharge summaries and clinic visit notes, respectively. Two sense inventories were constructed for the 1000 most frequent abbreviations in these 2 corpora. Using the sense inventories created from discharge summaries, CARD achieved an F1 score of 0.755 for identifying and disambiguating all abbreviations in a corpus from the VUMC discharge summaries, which is superior to MetaMap and Apache's clinical Text Analysis Knowledge Extraction System (cTAKES). Using additional external corpora, we also demonstrated that the MetaMap-CARD wrapper improved MetaMap's performance in recognizing disorder entities in clinical notes. The CARD framework, 2 sense inventories, and the wrapper for MetaMap are publicly available at https://sbmi.uth.edu/ccb/resources/abbreviation.htm . We believe the CARD framework can be a valuable resource for improving abbreviation identification in clinical NLP systems.
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