Implementation and comparison of two text mining methods with a standard pharmacovigilance method for signal detection of medication errors

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Nadine Kadi Eskildsen
  • Robert Eriksson
  • Sten B. Christensen
  • Tamilla Stine Aghassipour
  • Mikael Juul Bygsø
  • Brunak, Søren
  • Suzanne Lisbet Hansen

BACKGROUND: Medication errors have been identified as the most common preventable cause of adverse events. The lack of granularity in medication error terminology has led pharmacovigilance experts to rely on information in individual case safety reports' (ICSRs) codes and narratives for signal detection, which is both time consuming and labour intensive. Thus, there is a need for complementary methods for the detection of medication errors from ICSRs. The aim of this study is to evaluate the utility of two natural language processing text mining methods as complementary tools to the traditional approach followed by pharmacovigilance experts for medication error signal detection.

METHODS: The safety surveillance advisor (SSA) method, I2E text mining and University of Copenhagen Center for Protein Research (CPR) text mining, were evaluated for their ability to extract cases containing a type of medication error where patients extracted insulin from a prefilled pen or cartridge by a syringe. A total of 154,209 ICSRs were retrieved from Novo Nordisk's safety database from January 1987 to February 2018. Each method was evaluated by recall (sensitivity) and precision (positive predictive value).

RESULTS: We manually annotated 2533 ICSRs to investigate whether these contained the sought medication error. All these ICSRs were then analysed using the three methods. The recall was 90.4, 88.1 and 78.5% for the CPR text mining, the SSA method and the I2E text mining, respectively. Precision was low for all three methods ranging from 3.4% for the SSA method to 1.9 and 1.6% for the CPR and I2E text mining methods, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Text mining methods can, with advantage, be used for the detection of complex signals relying on information found in unstructured text (e.g., ICSR narratives) as standardised and both less labour-intensive and time-consuming methods compared to traditional pharmacovigilance methods. The employment of text mining in pharmacovigilance need not be limited to the surveillance of potential medication errors but can be used for the ongoing regulatory requests, e.g., obligations in risk management plans and may thus be utilised broadly for signal detection and ongoing surveillance activities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number94
JournalBMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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