Development of a Custom Spell-Checker for Emergency Department Data


Emergency department (ED) syndromic surveillance relies on a chief complaint, which is often a free-text field, and may contain misspelled words, syntactic errors, and healthcare-specific and/or facility-specific abbreviations. Cleaning of the chief complaint field may improve syndrome capture sensitivity and reduce misclassification of syndromes. We are building a spell-checker, customized with language found in ED corpora, as our first step in cleaning our chief complaint field. This exercise would elucidate the value of pre-processing text and would lend itself to future work using natural language processing (NLP) techniques, such as topic modeling. Such a tool could be extensible to other datasets that contain free-text fields, including electronic reportable disease lab and case reporting.

Objective: To share progress on a custom spell-checker for emergency department chief complaint free-text data and demonstrate a spell-checker validation Shiny application.

Primary Topic Areas: 
Original Publication Year: 
Event/Publication Date: 
January, 2019

June 18, 2019

Contact Us

NSSP Community of Practice



This website is supported by Cooperative Agreement # 6NU38OT000297-02-01 Strengthening Public Health Systems and Services through National Partnerships to Improve and Protect the Nation's Health between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of CDC. CDC is not responsible for Section 508 compliance (accessibility) on private websites.

Site created by Fusani Applications