Would SNOMED CT benefit from realism-based ontology evolution?

AMIA Annual Symposium Proceedings 2007:105-109 (2007)
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Abstract

If SNOMED CT is to serve as a biomedical reference terminology, then steps must be taken to ensure comparability of information formulated using successive versions. New releases are therefore shipped with a history mechanism. We assessed the adequacy of this mechanism for its treatment of the distinction between changes occurring on the side of entities in reality and changes in our understanding thereof. We found that these two types are only partially distinguished and that a more detailed study is required to propose clear recommendations for enhancement along at least the following lines: (1) explicit representation of the provenance of a class; (2) separation of the time-period during which a component is stated valid in SNOMED CT from the period it is (or has been) valid in reality, and (3) redesign of the historical relationships table to give users better assistance for recovery in case of introduced mistakes.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo