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Detection of pediatric respiratory and gastrointestinal outbreaks from free-text chief complaints.

Abstract

We conducted a retrospective study to ascertain the potential of free-text chief complaints collected in pediatric emergency departments to serve as surveillance data for early detection of outbreaks. We determined that automatically coded chief complaint data provide a signal that reflects outbreaks in a population of children less than five years of age. Using the Exponentially Weighted Moving Average (EWMA) detection algorithm, we measured the timeliness, sensitivity, and specificity of free-text chief complaints for predicting outbreaks of pediatric respiratory and gastrointestinal illness. We found that time series of automatically coded free text-chief complaints in pediatric patients correlate well with hospital admissions and precede them by the mean of 10.3 days (95% CI -15.15, 35.5) for respiratory outbreaks and 29 days (95% CI 4.23, 53.7) for gastrointestinal outbreaks. We conclude that free-text chief complaints may play an important role as an early, sensitive and specific indicator of outbreaks of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in children less than five years of age.

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Citation:

Ivanov O, Gesteland PH, Hogan W, Mundorff MB, Wagner MM. (2003). Detection of pediatric respiratory and gastrointestinal outbreaks from free-text chief complaints. AMIA ... Annual Symposium proceedings. AMIA Symposium