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JMIR Public Health Surveill ; 7(3): e26719, 2021 03 24.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2197901


BACKGROUND: Patient travel history can be crucial in evaluating evolving infectious disease events. Such information can be challenging to acquire in electronic health records, as it is often available only in unstructured text. OBJECTIVE: This study aims to assess the feasibility of annotating and automatically extracting travel history mentions from unstructured clinical documents in the Department of Veterans Affairs across disparate health care facilities and among millions of patients. Information about travel exposure augments existing surveillance applications for increased preparedness in responding quickly to public health threats. METHODS: Clinical documents related to arboviral disease were annotated following selection using a semiautomated bootstrapping process. Using annotated instances as training data, models were developed to extract from unstructured clinical text any mention of affirmed travel locations outside of the continental United States. Automated text processing models were evaluated, involving machine learning and neural language models for extraction accuracy. RESULTS: Among 4584 annotated instances, 2659 (58%) contained an affirmed mention of travel history, while 347 (7.6%) were negated. Interannotator agreement resulted in a document-level Cohen kappa of 0.776. Automated text processing accuracy (F1 85.6, 95% CI 82.5-87.9) and computational burden were acceptable such that the system can provide a rapid screen for public health events. CONCLUSIONS: Automated extraction of patient travel history from clinical documents is feasible for enhanced passive surveillance public health systems. Without such a system, it would usually be necessary to manually review charts to identify recent travel or lack of travel, use an electronic health record that enforces travel history documentation, or ignore this potential source of information altogether. The development of this tool was initially motivated by emergent arboviral diseases. More recently, this system was used in the early phases of response to COVID-19 in the United States, although its utility was limited to a relatively brief window due to the rapid domestic spread of the virus. Such systems may aid future efforts to prevent and contain the spread of infectious diseases.

Communicable Diseases, Emerging/diagnosis , Electronic Health Records , Information Storage and Retrieval/methods , Public Health Surveillance/methods , Travel/statistics & numerical data , Algorithms , COVID-19/epidemiology , Communicable Diseases, Emerging/epidemiology , Feasibility Studies , Female , Humans , Machine Learning , Male , Middle Aged , Natural Language Processing , Reproducibility of Results , United States/epidemiology
Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol ; 42(6): 751-753, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1263422


Antibiotic prescribing practices across the Veterans' Health Administration (VA) experienced significant shifts during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. From 2015 to 2019, antibiotic use between January and May decreased from 638 to 602 days of therapy (DOT) per 1,000 days present (DP), while the corresponding months in 2020 saw antibiotic utilization rise to 628 DOT per 1,000 DP.

Anti-Bacterial Agents/therapeutic use , COVID-19/epidemiology , Hospitals, Veterans/statistics & numerical data , Antimicrobial Stewardship , Humans , Practice Patterns, Physicians' , United States/epidemiology
PLoS One ; 16(4): e0248080, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1199975


BACKGROUND: Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) may positively or negatively impact outcomes in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. We investigated the association of ARB or ACEI use with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-related outcomes in US Veterans with treated hypertension using an active comparator design, appropriate covariate adjustment, and negative control analyses. METHODS AND FINDINGS: In this retrospective cohort study of Veterans with treated hypertension in the Veterans Health Administration (01/19/2020-08/28/2020), we compared users of (A) ARB/ACEI vs. non-ARB/ACEI (excluding Veterans with compelling indications to reduce confounding by indication) and (B) ARB vs. ACEI among (1) SARS-CoV-2+ outpatients and (2) COVID-19 hospitalized inpatients. The primary outcome was all-cause hospitalization or mortality (outpatients) and all-cause mortality (inpatients). We estimated hazard ratios (HR) using propensity score-weighted Cox regression. Baseline characteristics were well-balanced between exposure groups after weighting. Among outpatients, there were 5.0 and 6.0 primary outcomes per 100 person-months for ARB/ACEI (n = 2,482) vs. non-ARB/ACEI (n = 2,487) users (HR 0.85, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.73-0.99, median follow-up 87 days). Among outpatients who were ARB (n = 4,877) vs. ACEI (n = 8,704) users, there were 13.2 and 14.8 primary outcomes per 100 person-months (HR 0.91, 95%CI 0.86-0.97, median follow-up 85 days). Among inpatients who were ARB/ACEI (n = 210) vs. non-ARB/ACEI (n = 275) users, there were 3.4 and 2.0 all-cause deaths per 100 person months (HR 1.25, 95%CI 0.30-5.13, median follow-up 30 days). Among inpatients, ARB (n = 1,164) and ACEI (n = 2,014) users had 21.0 vs. 17.7 all-cause deaths, per 100 person-months (HR 1.13, 95%CI 0.93-1.38, median follow-up 30 days). CONCLUSIONS: This observational analysis supports continued ARB or ACEI use for patients already using these medications before SARS-CoV-2 infection. The novel beneficial association observed among outpatients between users of ARBs vs. ACEIs on hospitalization or mortality should be confirmed with randomized trials.

Angiotensin Receptor Antagonists/therapeutic use , Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme Inhibitors/therapeutic use , COVID-19/pathology , Hypertension/drug therapy , Aged , COVID-19/mortality , COVID-19/virology , Female , Hospitalization/statistics & numerical data , Humans , Hypertension/pathology , Male , Middle Aged , Propensity Score , Proportional Hazards Models , Retrospective Studies , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Survival Rate , Veterans