Development of a Pipeline for Adverse Drug Reaction Identification in Clinical Notes: Word Embedding Models and String Matching

Klaske R. Siegersma, Maxime Evers, Sophie H. Bots, Floor Groepenhoff, Yolande Appelman, Leonard Hofstra, Igor I. Tulevski, G. Aernout Somsen, Hester M. den Ruijter, Marco Spruit, N. Charlotte Onland-Moret*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Knowledge about adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in the population is limited because of underreporting, which hampers surveillance and assessment of drug safety. Therefore, gathering accurate information that can be retrieved from clinical notes about the incidence of ADRs is of great relevance. However, manual labeling of these notes is time-consuming, and automatization can improve the use of free-text clinical notes for the identification of ADRs. Furthermore, tools for language processing in languages other than English are not widely available. Objective: The aim of this study is to design and evaluate a method for automatic extraction of medication and Adverse Drug Reaction Identification in Clinical Notes (ADRIN). Methods: Dutch free-text clinical notes (N=277,398) and medication registrations (N=499,435) from the Cardiology Centers of the Netherlands database were used. All clinical notes were used to develop word embedding models. Vector representations of word embedding models and string matching with a medical dictionary (Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities [MedDRA]) were used for identification of ADRs and medication in a test set of clinical notes that were manually labeled. Several settings, including search area and punctuation, could be adjusted in the prototype to evaluate the optimal version of the prototype. Results: The ADRIN method was evaluated using a test set of 988 clinical notes written on the stop date of a drug. Multiple versions of the prototype were evaluated for a variety of tasks. Binary classification of ADR presence achieved the highest accuracy of 0.84. Reduced search area and inclusion of punctuation improved performance, whereas incorporation of the MedDRA did not improve the performance of the pipeline. Conclusions: The ADRIN method and prototype are effective in recognizing ADRs in Dutch clinical notes from cardiac diagnostic screening centers. Surprisingly, incorporation of the MedDRA did not result in improved identification on top of word embedding models. The implementation of the ADRIN tool may help increase the identification of ADRs, resulting in better care and saving substantial health care costs.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31063
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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