Formalizing UMLS Relations Using Semantic Partitions in the Context of a Task-Based Clinical Guidelines Model

In IFOMIS Reports. Saarbrücken: IFOMIS (2004)
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Abstract

An important part of the Unified Medical Language System (UMLS) is its Semantic Network, consisting of 134 Semantic Types connected to each other by edges formed by one or more of 54 distinct Relation Types. This Network is however for many purposes overcomplex, and various groups have thus made attempts at simplification. Here we take this work further by simplifying the relations which involve the three Semantic Types – Diagnostic Procedure, Laboratory Procedure and Therapeutic or Preventive Procedure. We define operators which can be used to generate terms instantiating types from this selected set when applied to terms designating certain other Semantic Types, including almost all the terms specifying clinical tasks. Usage of such operators thus provides a useful and economical way of specifying clinical tasks. The operators allow us to define a mapping between those types within the UMLS which do not represent clinical tasks and those which do. This mapping then provides a basis for an ontology of clinical tasks that can be used in the formulation of computer-interpretable clinical guideline models.

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Barry Smith
University at Buffalo

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