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Can the application of machine learning to electronic health records guide antibiotic prescribing decisions for suspected urinary tract infection in the Emergency Department?

Rockenschaub, Patrick; Gill, Martin J; McNulty, Dave; Carroll, Orlagh; Freemantle, Nick; Shallcross, Laura; (2023) Can the application of machine learning to electronic health records guide antibiotic prescribing decisions for suspected urinary tract infection in the Emergency Department? PLOS Digital Health , 2 (6) , Article e0000261. 10.1371/journal.pdig.0000261. Green open access

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Abstract

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a major cause of emergency hospital admissions, but it remains challenging to diagnose them reliably. Application of machine learning (ML) to routine patient data could support clinical decision-making. We developed a ML model predicting bacteriuria in the ED and evaluated its performance in key patient groups to determine scope for its future use to improve UTI diagnosis and thus guide antibiotic prescribing decisions in clinical practice. We used retrospective electronic health records from a large UK hospital (2011-2019). Non-pregnant adults who attended the ED and had a urine sample cultured were eligible for inclusion. The primary outcome was predominant bacterial growth ≥104 cfu/mL in urine. Predictors included demography, medical history, ED diagnoses, blood tests, and urine flow cytometry. Linear and tree-based models were trained via repeated cross-validation, re-calibrated, and validated on data from 2018/19. Changes in performance were investigated by age, sex, ethnicity, and suspected ED diagnosis, and compared to clinical judgement. Among 12,680 included samples, 4,677 (36.9%) showed bacterial growth. Relying primarily on flow cytometry parameters, our best model achieved an area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.813 (95% CI 0.792-0.834) in the test data, and achieved both higher sensitivity and specificity compared to proxies of clinician's judgement. Performance remained stable for white and non-white patients but was lower during a period of laboratory procedure change in 2015, in patients ≥65 years (AUC 0.783, 95% CI 0.752-0.815), and in men (AUC 0.758, 95% CI 0.717-0.798). Performance was also slightly reduced in patients with recorded suspicion of UTI (AUC 0.797, 95% CI 0.765-0.828). Our results suggest scope for use of ML to inform antibiotic prescribing decisions by improving diagnosis of suspected UTI in the ED, but performance varied with patient characteristics. Clinical utility of predictive models for UTI is therefore likely to differ for important patient subgroups including women <65 years, women ≥65 years, and men. Tailored models and decision thresholds may be required that account for differences in achievable performance, background incidence, and risks of infectious complications in these groups.

Type: Article
Title: Can the application of machine learning to electronic health records guide antibiotic prescribing decisions for suspected urinary tract infection in the Emergency Department?
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pdig.0000261
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pdig.0000261
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third-party material in this article are included in the Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10172598
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