Negative findings in electronic health records and biomedical ontologies: A realist approach

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Ceusters, W., Elkin, P. & Smith, B. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 76, 326-333. 2007. PMID: 17369081

PURPOSE: A substantial fraction of the observations made by clinicians and entered into patient records are expressed by means of negation or by using terms which contain negative qualifiers (as in "absence of pulse" or "surgical procedure not performed"). This seems at first sight to present problems for ontologies, terminologies and data repositories that adhere to a realist view and thus reject any reference to putative non-existing entities. Basic Formal Ontology (BFO) and Referent Tracking (RT) are examples of such paradigms. The purpose of the research here described was to test a proposal to capture negative findings in electronic health record systems based on BFO and RT.