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De-identifying Swedish clinical text - refinement of a gold standard and experiments with Conditional random fields

Hercules Dalianis* and Sumithra Velupillai

Author Affiliations

Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, (DSV), Stockholm University Forum 100, 164 40 Kista, Sweden

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Journal of Biomedical Semantics 2010, 1:6  doi:10.1186/2041-1480-1-6

Published: 12 April 2010



In order to perform research on the information contained in Electronic Patient Records (EPRs), access to the data itself is needed. This is often very difficult due to confidentiality regulations. The data sets need to be fully de-identified before they can be distributed to researchers. De-identification is a difficult task where the definitions of annotation classes are not self-evident.


We present work on the creation of two refined variants of a manually annotated Gold standard for de-identification, one created automatically, and one created through discussions among the annotators. The data is a subset from the Stockholm EPR Corpus, a data set available within our research group. These are used for the training and evaluation of an automatic system based on the Conditional Random Fields algorithm. Evaluating with four-fold cross-validation on sets of around 4-6 000 annotation instances, we obtained very promising results for both Gold Standards: F-score around 0.80 for a number of experiments, with higher results for certain annotation classes. Moreover, 49 false positives that were verified true positives were found by the system but missed by the annotators.


Our intention is to make this Gold standard, The Stockholm EPR PHI Corpus, available to other research groups in the future. Despite being slightly more time-consuming we believe the manual consensus gold standard is the most valuable for further research. We also propose a set of annotation classes to be used for similar de-identification tasks.