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Artificial intelligence techniques for monitoring dangerous infections

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6 Author(s)

The monitoring and detection of nosocomial infections is a very important problem arising in hospitals. A hospital-acquired or nosocomial infection is a disease that develops after admission into the hospital and it is the consequence of a treatment, not necessarily a surgical one, performed by the medical staff. Nosocomial infections are dangerous because they are caused by bacteria which have dangerous (critical) resistance to antibiotics. This problem is very serious all over the world. In Italy, almost 5-8% of the patients admitted into hospitals develop this kind of infection. In order to reduce this figure, policies for controlling infections should be adopted by medical practitioners. In order to support them in this complex task, we have developed a system, called MERCURIO, capable of managing different aspects of the problem. The objectives of this system are the validation of microbiological data and the creation of a real time epidemiological information system. The system is useful for laboratory physicians, because it supports them in the execution of the microbiological analyses; for clinicians, because it supports them in the definition of the prophylaxis, of the most suitable antibiotic therapy and in monitoring patients' infections; and for epidemiologists, because it allows them to identify outbreaks and to study infection dynamics. In order to achieve these objectives, we have adopted expert system and data mining techniques. We have also integrated a statistical module that monitors the diffusion of nosocomial infections over time in the hospital, and that strictly interacts with the knowledge based module. Data mining techniques have been used for improving the system knowledge base. The knowledge discovery process is not antithetic, but complementary to the one based on manual knowledge elicitation. In order to verify the reliability of the tasks performed by MERCURIO and the usefulness of the knowledge discovery approach, we performed a test - - based on a dataset of real infection events. In the validation task MERCURIO achieved an accuracy of 98.5%, a sensitivity of 98.5% and a specificity of 99%. In the therapy suggestion task, MERCURIO achieved very high accuracy and specificity as well. The executed test provided many insights to experts, too (we discovered some of their mistakes). The knowledge discovery approach was very effective in validating part of the MERCURIO knowledge base, and also in extending it with new validation rules, confirmed by interviewed microbiologists and specific to the hospital laboratory under consideration

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Information Technology in Biomedicine, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:10 ,  Issue: 1 )